The summer of 2005 was one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. Contributing to the disaster was immense cost and clean-up from fallen trees. In some situations, trees had caused many utilities and cable lines to fall. That added to the cost of repair and loss of vital services, including the danger of trying to remove branches or trees near downed active electrical power lines.
Precautionary steps should have been taken to minimize or eliminate these damages.
Before the beginning of the new hurricane season, which begins June 1st and ends on November 30th, homeowners should evaluate their trees to be trimmed by professional tree trimmers. This will reduce resistance and tree toppling from hurricane wind force.
Winter months are the optimal time for tree trimming, when trees are not actively growing and do not need protection from sunburn.
The process of trimming includes cutting out the dead, diseased, and damaged wood, and removing water sprouts. These sprouts usually grow from previous pruning, where the branch rubs against other branches or prevents sunlight from reaching that section and should be cut away. Also included in removal, is any coconuts, fruits, and any fallen debris which can cause damage during a hurricane or tropical wind force. The debris or branches should be hauled away as soon as possible.
Certain types of trees should not be planted or should be removed prior to hurricane season
These trees cause most damage during hurricane force winds:
- Australian Pine has shallow roots. During a storm, the tree can fall down and will be expensive to remove, including the root balls.
- Mahogany trees have brittle wood and branches that break apart during low wind speed. These trees can grow to seventy feet.
- Ficus trees have shallow large root balls and a dense canopy, making the tree perceptible to fall, during wind speeds of 60 mph, causing plenty of destruction. When a Ficus tree falls, the roots of the tree will be uprooted, and cause damage to fences, underground utilities, and plumbing.
- Laurel Oak trees, which are at least 40 years old, are perceptible to wind damage.
- Queen Palm tree roots will be pulled out of the ground, and snap at the trunk, by heavy wind speed.
- Tabebuia trees will fall down, by wind speed of at least 25 mph.
Certain types of trees will better tolerate hurricane force winds, and cause the least amount of damage
- Live Oak Trees are likely to tolerate heavy wind force, but on occasion, will split in half or fall over. Preferably, the tree should not be planted on residential properties with small yards.
- Pygmy Date Palms grow up to ten feet with single or multiple trunks and tolerate heavy wind force. During hurricanes Andrew and Wilma, these trees faired well during speeds more than 120 mph.
- Canary Island Date Palms can grow up to 60 feet and withstand heavy gusty wind force. Unfortunately, these trees sometimes have pest problems, and retail about $1,000 a tree.
- Ironwood trees are very resistant against hurricane winds. These trees grow around 40 - 50 feet, and wood has been used to built boats, tool handles and candlesticks.
- Sabal Palm trees are known to withstand winds of more than 145 mph. These trees grow to about 50 feet, yet, are less attractive than other palm trees.