Ice on tree

Storm Damaged Tree Recovery

January 22, 2024 By ,

The January 2024 winter storm brought sleet, snow, freezing rain, and wind to the Portland area, taking a heavy toll on our urban forest. We have seen widespread tree damage across the Portland area ranging in severity from whole trees uprooting and toppling over to major branch breakages. Our arborists are working hard to help with your tree emergencies and will continue to aid in storm damaged tree recovery for weeks to come.

Uprooted tree on roof

Prioritizing Hazards During Storm Response

Our ISA-certified arborists are also ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified. This additional education trains arborists in the systematic process for identifying tree risk. The severity of a hazard posed by a tree depends both on the likelihood of failure and the potential harm caused by a failure. Broken trees that pose a severe hazard are prioritized first. Severe hazards involve trees that have such significant breaks that the likelihood of further damage to people or property is high. This recent winter storm brought down many whole trees onto houses, as seen above, split large trunks, and sheared off significant portions of canopy.

Rootplate of uprooted tree

Storm Damaged Tree Recovery

The heavy rains of December 2023 saturated the soil. When the heavy winds of this winter storm blew through the tree canopy, the roots were not as well anchored in the saturated soil. Whole trees uprooted and toppled onto houses, damaging other trees as they fell. The fallen trees and debris should be removed from the structures to prevent further damage and allow for any needed structural repairs to begin.

The uprooted tree seen above damaged the standing conifer as it fell. The remaining standing trees should be inspected for signs of instability, as nearby uprooted tree root plates can destabilize the root mass of the standing trees. Downed trees that once acted as a windbreak can also change the wind patterns that affect the standing tree. Broken branches still attached to the standing trees should be removed to mitigate the hazard of falling branches. Broken branch stubs from branches that have already fallen from the tree will need to be pruned clean to promote proper healing.

Broken Branch

If you have a storm-damaged tree, our ISA-certified arborists can consult with you on the best course of action to mitigate hazards and help your trees recover.

Tree Maintenance for Hazard Reduction

The severity of this winter storm coupled with rain-saturated soils caused damage to even well-maintained trees. Arborists at For The Love Of Trees recommend regular tree care throughout the life of the tree to promote healthy structure. Maintaining your trees reduces the likelihood of severe failure due to weather events. Some common hazard reduction strategies include dead wood removal, removal of broken branches, removal of flawed or compromised growth, branch end-weight reduction, and compromised whole tree removal. See our article “Hazard Reduction Pruning” for a more detailed description of our approach.