There are a number of structural characteristics which increase a tree’s susceptibility to ice damage; “included” bark, decaying or dead branches, increased surface area of lateral (side) branches, broad crowns, and imbalanced crowns.
Included bark results from in-grown bark in branch junctions. is weak connection enhances a tree’s susceptibility to breakage under ice-loading conditions. Decaying or dead branches are already weakened and have a high probability of breaking when loaded with ice. Large evergreen trees, in particular Eastern Pine trees, will cascade limbs during ice or heavy snow events. Mature trees have an increased surface area to hold ice which will accumulate on lateral branches; the ice load results in greater
Many deciduous tree species, when grown in open areas of your landscape, form wide spreading canopies (decurrent branching), increasing their vulnerability to ice storms. Examples include: Siberian Elm, American Elm, Hackberry, Ash, and Honey Locust. Trees with imbalanced crowns and leaning trunks are also more susceptible to ice damage.
Ice Storm Damage Management and Prevention
Trees pruned regularly from a young age should be more resistant to ice storms as a result of the removal of structurally weak branches, decreased surface area of lateral branches and decreased wind resistance. Professional arborists can install cables and braces to increase a tree’s tolerance to ice accumulation in situations where individual trees must be stabilized to prevent their failure.
After storm damage has occurred, hazardous trees and branches require immediate removal to ensure safety and prevent additional property damage. Trees that can be saved should have broken branches properly pruned to the branch collar. Loose bark should be cut back only to where it is rmly attached to the tree. A split fork can be repaired through cabling and bracing.