Businesses and homeowners pay billions of dollars every year because of storm damage involving trees. So far the Houston, Texas area and Old Katy have survived the 2021 hurricane season mostly unscathed. But there are still almost four months left before the end of the season on November 30. We don’t want to scare you, but please heed the following prediction from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.“

—  NOAA 

You should know the most common tree damage culprits so that you can take measures to prevent damage to you and your neighbor’s homes and businesses.

Understanding these common types of tree damage from storms and what to do about them can make all the difference.

1. High Wind Throw

Sometimes the wind can be strong enough to knock a tree down completely. It’s simple: the tree’s root system was no match for the force of the wind. Now, that tree is either leaning or entirely on the ground. If it’s not on top of your house.

Roots need adequate room to branch out underground, building a network to support the weight of the tree. If the weight + wind force (which amplifies weight is greater than roots can support, they begin to break. Tree disease can also hasten the demise of an otherwise healthy tree root system. In either case, the average person may not know anything is wrong until it’s too late because they can’t see the mayhem underground.

2. Stem Failure

Wind damage will always take out the weakest links first. Hardwood trees live a very long time, so they are at high risk of sustaining some kind of injury during their lifetime. These injuries can cause rot or invite disease into the tree, which will eventually overtake it. Stem damage may also occur if a tree was once part of a wooded area that was cleared for development.

Now, that tree is alone, fighting the wind. Trees may seem big and strong. But they are highly reliant on the trees around them to reduce the wind flow.

Stem failure is almost always a death sentence for a tree, as it will always have this vulnerable spot despite being strong elsewhere. Stem Failure from wind storms is almost always preventable if careful considerations are taken to ensure proper tree location placement and tree stabilizers are installed if the tree stem shows signs of vulnerability.

3. Crown Twist

The crown of a tree is its canopy, including the branches, leaves, stems, and twigs. This section is the highest, newest growth, and therefore one of the most vulnerable parts of the tree. It just also happens to be the part of the tree that most of us appreciate for its beauty and shade. If it snaps off, the tree looks pretty bare.

The first time it twists you may not notice. But eventually, this damage will lead to tree sickness and possibly a lost crown. Professional tree pruning can prevent crown twisting damage, maintaining the health and beauty of that tree during rough storms.

4. Root Damage

A tree is only as healthy as its route system. Unhealthy roots will not deliver adequate nourishment to the tree. Damaged tree roots will also become fragile, brittle, and unsupportive. Signs of root damage include exposed roots, raised roots, excessive mushroom growth around the tree, raised soil, and visible cracking or rotting roots.

A tree support system using cables, braces, or stakes can prevent unstable or young trees during storms. We highly recommend installing tree cables, stakes, or braces if you have recently replaced a dead tree with a young one.


5. Fallen Branches

Chances are you’ve had the opportunity to watch a storm in action. You see the abuse those branches take from the wind. They are designed to bend with the current so that they don’t break. But just like humans, they have their breaking point.

Tree disease and poorly pruned trees may increase the risk of these fallen branches. Fallen branches are not to be taken lightly… because they are not light. A fallen branch can break a window, crush a car, damage roofs, or even send an unlucky person to the ER. As we found out with Hurricane Harvey, fallen tree limbs and logs can block street drains, flooding home, streets, and vehicles.

Regular and adequate tree pruning can reduce the risk of this damage.

6. Tree Lightning Damage

When a tree is struck by lightning during a storm or high wind it can catch on fire throwing thousands of tiny burning embers into the wind. If the tree is dead it can explode, causing multiple fires and endangering your neighbors and local wildlife.

Tree lightning protection systems can help draw lightning away from tall trees, providing protection during lightning storms and hurricanes.

Are Your Trees at Risk?

In a perfect world, all at-risk trees would be assessed before the storm happens. This could prevent a lot of unsightly tree damage that may result in losing the tree. But after a big storm is the second-best time to assess your trees’ risk levels because we can reduce the extent of damage and in some cases save the tree.

Remember: it’s your responsibility to manage the health of the trees on your property. If you have a tree that hurts someone else or causes property damage, you may be liable.

How a Certified Arborist Can Help

A certified arborist is a qualified tree care specialist. We understand tree health and stability. We can help you maintain older trees on your property, so they will continue to offer that shade and beauty to the next generation. We are an arborist-owned company with 26 years of experience. We can assess trees and identify trees that can be saved with emergency intervention and those that will need to be removed for both the tree’s well-being and your family’s.

If you recently experienced tree damage from storms like these in Katy, Fulshear, or Hockely, give us a call at (281) 391-3450 and we’ll come and take a look.