Posted: June 30, 2015

Thanks to generous spring rains, Rochester, Winona, and Southeast Minnesota are bursting with new growth and lush shades of green everywhere! While rain is beneficial for all things growing, the high winds and dangerous lightning that accompany severe thunderstorms can cause serious and permanent damage to trees.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider about wind and lightning damage is prevention. Of course it’s impossible to prevent high winds and lightning from occurring, but there are steps that can be taken that may prevent significant tree damage.

Number one is to keep your trees healthy and strong. That means following a regular plan of proper watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Each species of tree may have somewhat different needs, so it is a good idea to consult an arborist about how to best care for your trees. A healthy tree is able to withstand more stress and stronger winds. Should damage occur due to high wind or lightning, a healthy tree is more likely to recover. When properly cared for, trees can be remarkably resilient.

The second most important step you can take to protect your trees from wind damage is predicting what areas of a tree are most likely to break in high winds. Monitor the condition of your trees each year to locate areas of disease, insect infestation, or structural weakness. These issues weaken trees and increase the likelihood of a tree sustaining serious damage. Again, an arborist will know what to look for and can properly prune and brace branches that may present a potential hazard. The healthier a tree, the better it will be able to withstand the forces of high winds.

When a tree is struck by lightning, it experiences a violent attack. A bolt of lightning reaches temperatures as high as 50,000 degrees and can conduct up to 100,000 volts. When lightning strikes a tree it causes the sap to instantly boil, releasing steam into the wood. This rapid increase of steam pressure within the tree can literally blow the bark off a tree and chunks of wood from the trunk. However, a lightning strike does not necessarily mean certain death for the tree. If the trunk isn’t split and the damage is confined to one side of the tree, it may survive.

Surprising as it may sound, it may even be possible to prevent lightning from striking a tree. It is expensive, but in the case of very significant trees, it may be worth the price. Copper cables may be extended from the tops of major trunks to ten foot copper rods that are driven into the ground around the drip line of the tree. In case of a lightning strike, the lightning is conducted along the cable into the ground.

When it comes to keeping your trees healthy for decades to come, no one cares more about trees than Maier Tree and Lawn. We’ve been taking care of trees for years, and we appreciate their value to the environment and your property, and the pleasure they can give for generations.

Contact us at Maier Tree and Lawn whenever you have a question about anything green and growing. We are proud to serve Rochester, Winona and Southeast Minnesota. Call us at 507-286-8733 in Rochester, or 507-454-7000 in Winona.

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