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Hurricane Sandy’s effects in Metro West Boston were less than what we anticipated.  Clients with tree damage were low in number.  Why did Irene cause so much damage last year compared to Sandy this year?  Several reasons may explain this. The first is that Irene last year took out severely weakened and compromised limbs and trees.  Structural defects affecting existing trees have not had time to advance significantly in severity.  Secondly and probably in tandem with the first reason, is that people were much more aware of the potential for storm-related tree damage and had taken steps to remediate potential concerns.  The advantage of working with certified arborists is that we are trained to be aware of potential tree issues and advise steps to address those issues.  These issues include broken limbs or “hangers”, wood decay affecting the strength and stability of trees, tree health issues that can cause a decline in tree defense mechanisms, growth characteristics such as included bark that usually weaken tree wood attachments  and/or construction-related activity that can impact tree health and/or the ability to resist uprooting.  While we can not always catch all potential points of failure, recognition of obvious hazards is what we are trained to do.

Of the failures that presented themselves during Sandy there were a small number of uprooted trees.  Spruce trees were often the type of tree affected. Why spruce trees?  Spruces are evergreens and carry their full canopy into the dormant season unlike deciduous trees that had shed a bulk of their leaves and created less resistance to wind flow.  Spruce trees have a tendency to be fairly shallow rooted with a compact root system.  Spruce trees also have a dense canopy that offers a lot of wind resistance and subjects them to the full force of wind events.  Take these general characteristics and combine them with tall trees growing in the open (winds are not buffered by other trees) on poor, coarse-textured or wet soils or having roots growing on rock ledge (less anchorage) and you have a potential for uprooting.  If uprooted trees are not too large and have possibilities for guying they can sometimes be righted and cabled.  Sometimes this is just not possible or practical.


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