During my brief time spent assessing storm damage in the woods, I found only one tree that had actually pulled up roots as it went down. Had the wind storm come during a time of saturated ground, many more trees would have suffered this fate. This tree probably would have remained standing if the wind hadn’t recruited some help.
While on its way to the ground, a second tree caught the first in its limbs and gave it the extra push needed to tear its roots from the ground. This is a common occurrence and the cause of many downed trees.
The offending tree broke at a point about 15 feet up and caught the victim low enough on the trunk to give the appropriate push to break the roots free.
What is left is a large log full of potential energy just waiting to relocate to a more stable position on the ground. Unsecured heavy objects suspended in the trees are one of the greatest hazards in the woods. I don’t think I’ll test my luck by standing beneath it.
It looks like there was a defect and some internal rot at the site of the break. This is what’s most commonly found when a tree trunk gives way.
The top has a good grip, so it’s hard to predict which end will first fail and bring the tree downward.
This tree top ended its journey in an upside-down position. There are a lot of new situations for creatures that live or nest beneath fallen logs or within tangles of dead branches.
Most of the debris was represented by large limbs. Many of the detached limbs are still precariously balanced high in the trees. As the leaves lose weight through drying, the balance will change and the limbs will continue their journey earthward. The sound of falling limbs is common for many days after a severe storm.
Limbs on the ground mean there are areas of exposed wood in the living tree. These are all points at which decay, disease or insects can invade. The storm may be gone, but it could take decades for all of the effects to be realized.