EXTENSION CONNECTION: Strong tree structure can reduce hurricane damage

Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM.

With the 2014 hurricane season's peak approaching, Colorado State University researchers reaffirmed their June forecast for a relatively quiet summer. 

CSU meteorologists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray predict nine tropical storms will form in the Atlantic Basin — which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea — between Aug. 1 and the hurricane season's end on Nov. 30. Of those storms, four tropical storms will strengthen into hurricanes with at least 74 mph winds.

Forecasters think one of those hurricanes will intensify into a major hurricane with peak winds exceeding 110 mph.Currently, the Atlantic's conditions are not favorable for hurricane formation this summer and aren’t expected to improve. Hurricanes draw energy from seawater that has been heated to at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that is even a few degrees cooler will not sustain a tropical storm.

The likelihood that tropical storms will form in the Atlantic increases in August, after waters have absorbed heat for several months. The hurricane season's peak is Sept. 10, when conditions usually are most favorable for storm formation. After September, hurricanes are more likely to form in the Caribbean Sea.  There is still time to assess the structure of the trees in the yard and make corrections.

Urban forest is much different from a natural forest. Trees often develop a form that is more susceptible to breakage when grown in developed commercial and residential environments. As a result, trees need preventive pruning to develop strong structure. Research and observation show that well-pruned trees can create a more wind resistant urban forest. 

Pruning to create stronger tree structure is an ongoing process.  To minimize the likelihood of tree damage, reduce the length of limbs that have a weak attachment to the trunk and balance the canopy by reducing limbs' length on the side where weight is concentrated. Do not remove interior branches, as this concentrates foliage at the tips of branches and causes them to break in strong winds. 

See http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/pruning.shtml for more information on pruning>>

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