Snow-loaded trees expected to compound high wind threat
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Strong winds gusts upwards of 70 mph on Saturday could bring down trees and powerlines, leaving many in the dark and without heat. Our Cam Smith spoke with foresters and tree crews about the potential damage.
“We are preparing our trucks, making sure everything is running smoothly,” said Danielle Roberts with Barrett’s Tree Service in South Burlington. She says when a storm is on the way, customers start to worry about getting their tree work done. “We do have a good list of work lined up and there are some tree removals that are kind of close to houses that people are wary about that people want done sooner rather than later -- obviously before anything bad happens.”
Forecasters say wind gusts could reach 70 mph in some spots. Tony D’Amato, director of the University of Vermont’s Forestry Program, says this time of year, white pines are often the most affected by strong winds. “Their needles are on so they’re going to experience the brunt of that wind. And they also have much shallower root systems than a hardwood tree. As a rule of thumb, evergreen trees tend to have a higher likelihood of blowing over than hardwood trees,” he said.
He says other trees experiencing decay or root damage are also susceptible. D’Amato says heavy snow left behind on trees like last weekend’s winter storm can also create dangerous situations. “When you see pretty significant wind throw in the winter, sometimes that’s tied to the trees having kind of heavy snow on their branches. It’s already putting some strain on that tree. When the wind goes through that, the wind is catching that snow like a sail and really putting a bit more strain on that tree as well,” he said.
Crews with Barret’s say they’re always keeping a close eye on reports of trees that may come down on roadways or power lines. They say if you come across a downed tree or a downed wire, report it right away and keep your distance.
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