New Publication Rates Trees by Susceptibility to Ice Storm Damage

A unique publication tells city planners and homeowners just how susceptible certain tree species are to ice storm damage--a handy guide in the wake of late November's ice storms in Illinois.

The publication, developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UW), is entitled "Trees and Ice Storms: The Development of Ice Storm-Resistant Urban Tree Populations."

"Severe ice storms occur every year in the United States and Canada, particularly in the Midwestern and eastern regions of the United States," according to Jay Hayek, Extension forester with U of I. "Along with fires and wind, ice storms are a frequent and major natural disturbance factor in eastern deciduous forests."

Likewise, ice storms are responsible for deaths and injuries of people and cause dramatic damage and tree loss to urban forests, Hayek noted. Ice storms annually result in millions--and potentially billions--of dollars in losses for extreme and widespread ice storms. Damage to electric distribution systems, blocked roadways, and property damage from fallen trees and limbs pose safety concerns and disrupt normal community functions.

"Tree species vary in their resistance to ice accumulation," added Hayek, "and certain characteristics, such as weak branch junctures, increase a tree's susceptibility to ice storm damage."

Planting a diverse urban forest that includes trees resistant to ice storms, and performing regular tree maintenance to avoid or remove structural weaknesses, will reduce damage caused by severe ice storms. Hayek advised that management plans for urban trees should incorporate information on the ice storm susceptibility of trees to limit potential ice damage.

"Management plans will help to reduce hazards resulting from ice damage, and help restore urban tree populations following ice storms," Hayek concluded.

Trees and Ice Storms presents the susceptibility ratings of species commonly planted in urban areas. To view this publication online, visit:

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