Healthy trees still can pose hazards long after storms

The power is back on in most areas and temperatures have cooled significantly since the violent derecho and sweltering heat wave, but downed trees and branches continue to litter roads and neighborhoods.

However, many of the trees that survived the weather could be ticking time bombs.

Arborists and other tree experts say that the taller a tree is in a small space, the bigger danger it presents. What also concerns them is the imbalance that pruning by power companies can present.

"They've been pruned by utilities," arborist Don Zimar said. "That causes that one-sided effect. If this tree falls, it's going to go (one) way. You can tell by looking at it."

The red flag for arborists like Zimar says that a red flag is seeing a tree that has most of its weight on one side, especially when that side is directed toward structures. If the tree blows down, it's only going one way - the way of the weight.

That has D.C. resident Damien Doyle concerned about the tree that sits feet from his home at 39th and W streets.

"There's a lot of concern because it could hit our house and take out a lot of transformers and power lines," Doyle said. "How much weight will that tree withstand?"

Trees that look healthy may be just as dangerous as ones that are leaning as well. In fact, experts say that very healthy trees with big canopies may be more likely to fall than a dead tree.

Many say that tree pruners contracted by power companies are told to just cut around wires rather than thinking about how it affects the tree.

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