When monsoon season hits the valley, nothing can be as dangerous as trees coming down on a car or house.

The carnage caused by downed trees, branches and debris can be overwhelming for home and business owners. We have over 15 years of experience providing storm damage response service to the Mesa and Tempe, Arizona areas. Never attempt to remove a downed tree, that’s what Arbor Care is here for. Our teams can quickly provide storm damage response to all your tree removal and clean up needs. Any storm damaged trees in on your property need to be properly inspected.

Our damage assessment process includes

Step 1.

Gauge the damage to the trees on your premises

Step 2.

Identify trees and branches in danger of failing

Step 3.

Assistance with debris cleanup

Step 4.

Remove down trees from the property

Proactive Anticipation of Harsh Weather

For those who have spent much time in or around the Sonoran Desert, the monsoon season is a familiar part of late summer. It typically spans from about mid June through the end of September. Its coming replaces the dry heat with high humidity, and offers some spectacular displays of lightning and thunder. Unfortunately, they also leave in their wake many badly damaged trees, sometimes also resulting in damage to property. Though their intensity may vary year to year and from area to area, some form of a monsoon season comes to Arizona every year. Anticipate its inevitable arrival in advance for maximum protection, and do not wait until after the monsoon is already underway before thinking about the safety of your trees, property, and family. Practice proactive tree care! Any money spent in preventive maintenance of your trees would most likely be dwarfed by the unexpected expense of a tree that falls down in your yard, even if it doesn’t result in tree damage to buildings, cars, fences or other structures that would be expensive to repair. Even one’s best efforts cannot prepare a tree to withstand the fiercest of winds accompanying monsoon storms. However, there is a lot of preparation you can and should do to greatly diminish potential storm damage to your trees. Most importantly, do not ignore and neglect your trees. Look at them now and then! An ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure! Once a tree is damaged, there is often not much that can be done to fix it. As stated on the website of a group of specialists based in Nova Scotia: “Once a tree is removed it takes years to grow back and we may never see it replaced in our life time. Remember, trees are an investment in our future.”

More About the Arizona Monsoon Season

The term “monsoon” derives from the Arabic “mausim” meaning “season” or “wind shift.” It is, quite literally, a shift in wind direction that causes the meteorological event. During the winter, Arizona’s wind flow comes from California and Nevada. During the summer, wind directions shift. The wind then comes from the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, bringing plenty of moisture along with it: up to one-third of Arizona’s annual rainfall! It is this wind shift that puts into motion the roughly three months of not just rain, but also dust storms, violent thunderstorms, and even tornadoes in rare cases. Especially damaging are “downbursts.” These are strong “vortex rings,” characterized by a vertically rotating circle of air. At the base of a downburst are heavy outward bursts of wind near the earth’s surface. Depending on their size and duration, a downburst may be called a “macroburst” or a “microburst.” It is this wind of the monsoon storms that causes the most storm damage to trees in Arizona. When preceded by heavy rain, a tree may be even more vulnerable to heavy winds, because in soil that is overly saturated, even a tree with healthy roots has a weaker hold. In this case, the bulk of the root system will become exposed if the tree falls over.

Is Your Tree Prepared For Storms

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, states that “Three-fourths of the damage that trees incur during storms is predictable and preventable.” Your trees will receive the best care from a Certified Arborist — a professional who has been certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Through experience, they can quickly recognize potentially hazardous defects in a tree before they become major threats, or that you may not have noticed yourself. If left to worsen, these defects can lead to branch failure, splitting, or loss of the entire tree. Keep in mind, though, that it is not only your arborist’s responsibility to care for your trees. There is a lot you can do, too. If you are unsure, please call us! One of our Certified Arborists can offer you a free assessment and suggest measures that can be taken to increase the chances that the trees in your yard are able to withstand heavy winds. There are no guarantees, but if your trees and property hold any value to you, it is worth any effort to “storm proof” them as much as possible.

Signs to Watch For (and correct) Before Storms Arrive:

  • DEAD WOOD: brittle & therefore unpredictable because it cannot give under pressure like living tree branches.
  • CRACKS: clear indication there will be splitting & branch failure sooner or later.
  • POOR TREE COMPOSITION (BRANCH STRUCTURE): excessive leaning, long horizontal limbs, crossing branches that rub against each other and create wounds, and narrow crotches (V-shaped instead of U-shaped). Multi-trunked trees need special attention and care. Two trunks or leaders that are of identical diameter and have a narrow crotch are not a good sign. To prevent splitting, choose one to be made dominant by stunting the growth of the other through pruning (called subordination). Poor structure is harder for the layman to identify, so a trained Certified Arborist can catch what you don’t see.
  • DECAY: hollow cavities, fungal growths, etc. These are signs of weakness.
  • PESTS: exacerbate a tree’s health problems, but they typically target trees that are already sickly, low cavities, fungal growths, etc. These are signs of weakness.
  • ROOT PROBLEMS: Keep in mind that roots are a tree’s anchor. Problems such as stem-girdling roots, while generally harder to detect, have the most impact on a tree’s inability to stay upright. If a significant portion of a mature tree’s roots have been crushed or cut, or if the tree is still root-bound from the box it came in from the nursery before it was planted, you may consider removing the tree before Mother Nature removes it for you (without any warning). Weak roots and a thick canopy is the deadliest combination during a storm.
  • DENSE CONOPY: Can you see some sky through the tree? Keeping your trees thin is the single most important thing to do to minimize chances of damage during a storm. Quite simply put: the thicker a tree is, the more susceptible it is to damage in heavy winds. Even for a tree that is otherwise perfectly healthy, overly dense foliage poses a safety hazard during stormy weather. A dense canopy will not allow the wind to easily pass through, and the resistance to wind can cause branches to break or even bring the entire tree down. This especially applies to weight at the ends of branches, which is why stripping only the lower parts of the branches is not adequate (and leaves the tree with a funny lion-tailed look).

More Tips For Avoiding Storm Damage

  • Plant new trees with their mature size in mind. Do not plant in shallow soils, too close to buildings or wires, or in steep banks. Some trees are more brittle and susceptible to breaking. Do your research before planting to save yourself the headache later (pun intended).
  • Water, mulch, and fertilize the trees regularly and properly. Prevent the soil from becoming compacted.
  • Prune annually (or every two to three years, depending on the variety) even while the trees are still young. Having your trees trimmed by a professional who understands healthy tree structure is your best bet for avoiding problems.
  • Avoid excavating around roots. If some excavation is necessary, take measures to minimize cutting or any other impairment of the roots.
  • Do not top trees! This common but incorrect practice guarantees eventual failure of branches.
  • Don’t procrastinate! Summer is the busiest season for tree companies in the Phoenix area, so if you wait until July, it may be hard to get the necessary work done in time.

Storm Damage Aftermath

If storms have hit your area and your trees have suffered damage, it’s cleanup time. Some storm damage debris is not urgent, but if there are large portions of your tree obstructing public roads or causing safety hazards, call us as soon as possible. The promptness of our response will depend greatly on many factors, including how widespread the storm damage has been. If there is any damage to property (besides the trees themselves), document it (include photographs) and contact your insurance company right away. Most insurance companies will ask for the invoice from the tree company to be clearly itemized to reflect how much of the cleanup work involves damage to the home, fencing, vehicles and other structures on the property. Your insurance may not pay for anything other than this, so please inquire about such details when filing a claim. If there are certain requirements, please let us know so as to maximize your reimbursement and minimize the financial repercussions of the property damage caused by the storm. Once a tree crew is out, the cleanup work typically goes very quickly, since there is no climbing required. It is mostly a matter of cutting up, chipping brush & hauling away the wood and debris. If the storm has been particularly severe and schedules are backlogged, certain less-hazardous, lower priority tasks (such as stump grinding or removal of some of the large rounds of wood which has been already cleared out of the way) can sometimes be completed on a later date. Strictly focusing on storm damage response, a conscientious tree crew will be sure everything has been made safe for the public and for your family before moving on to the next urgent storm damage call.

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