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Falling Trees In A Hurricane Due To Wind And Saturated Ground

Why do trees fall in a hurricane or tropical storm? Most often than not, a tree will fall in a hurricane due to both stress from high winds putting pressure on saturated ground which has weakened the roots and structure of the ground beneath.

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And, research consistently shows that fallen trees in these storms is the second leading cause of death and serious injury to humans. The leading cause is storm surge leading to drowning.

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However, if you follow tropical systems closely, you’ve likely seen pictures of places along the coast where the eye made landfall and seen cases were some remained standing, and others fell.

The reason for that is some of these structures have roots which go deep in to the ground and are resistant to soil erosion or deeply water saturated soil, and some have trunks or branches which are very flexible and can withstand lots of bending like you’d find in high winds.

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Noted trees which are resistant to these storms include Sand Live Oaks, Southern Magnolia, Live Oaks, Crape Myrtle, Bald Cypress, and Sabal Palm.

Noted to be the less resistant include Pine, Elm, Bradford Pear, Water Oaks, and Laurel Oaks.

EDUCATION: System Impacts To Coastal Preserves And Wildlife Refuges

However, it should be noted in Category 3 or greater systems, all structures are likely to fail regardless of resistance.

Risk of Death or Injury

As stated above, when these structures fall, they are the second leading cause of death or injury during a storm. And, many times these accidents are preventable.

Some points to remember:

  • Never venture outside your home in a hurricane or tropical storm once winds reach 35 mph. And, remember even after a storm has passed, there is still the potential for roots to fail.
  • Learn how and when to prune trees so they are less likely to fail.
  • If you live in an area prone to these types of storms, consider removing trees or planting more resistant species.
  • And while this is a good idea for many reasons along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, metal roofs offer superior protection when these structures fall on homes.
  • Trees often fall and take out power lines, which can lay on the ground still charged. Always treat downed power lines as though they are charged even with evidence they aren’t. People being electrocuted from downed power lines is the third leading cause of death or serious injury in these storms.

It’s clear in the past decade we’ve seen an increase in frequency and strength of hurricanes and tropical storms, and this will likely lead to an increase in risks to humans and animals if this trend continues.

EDUCATION: The Eye And Center of Circulation

As part of your preparation and planning, it’s important to pay attention and consider your lawn, roof, and trees when protecting your loved ones and homes.

Using the discussion form below, talk to us about this topic and tell us some ways you’ve found to mitigate damage and risks associated with trees falling in tropical storms and hurricanes?

Or, what are some species we failed to mention in this article which are resistant or likely to fail in high winds and flooding?

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Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

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