Identifying hazards after a storm
You could be held liable if a hazardous branch or tree falls and damages property or causes personal injury after a storm. If you suspect or can see storm damage to your tree, you should consider getting a tree care professional to assess the damage. Any assessment should check for the presence of broken or hanging limbs, split branch unions (also know as branch forks), splintering or removal of bark, twisting or cracking of trunks, and uprooting. It is important that the injuries be properly treated and repaired in order to maintain the health of the tree and remove vulnerability to future damage.
Protecting your trees
The greatest peril in a storm is the property damage and casualties that can occur when big trees fall. Large growing trees will “catch” more wind and become heavier, so they are prone to increased mechanical stresses, thus increasing the chances of failure. Larger trees will also affect an increased area should they or their larger limbs fall. This means that power lines, homes and other structures that might not have been threatened a few years ago might suddenly be under threat by a tree that has grown. Cabling and bracing techniques can be used to provide additional structural strength for individual limbs, or even entire trees. To help ease your concerns, have a professional arborist evaluate your trees. Doing this will help you determine potential weaknesses and dangers.
Usually some damage will occur, but the extent depends on the severity of the lightning strike. Lightning damage to trees often is more serious than its outward appearance. Whatever you see on the outside has probably occurred, to a more serious degree on the inside. The vascular tissue of a tree may have been heated and/or burnt to a point where large sections of the tissue have been killed. The lightning may have traveled into the root system, damaging or even killing whole sections of the roots. It may take a year or even longer to know the full extent of damage from a lightning strike. If you have any doubts about the health of your tree, consult with a tree care professional.
Saving a damaged tree
Whether or not a tree can be saved depends on the amount of damage. If the injuries look significant, you should first have your tree assessed before making any reparations. A thorough examination will help determine if the health and safety of the tree has been compromised. Only then can the appropriate corrective actions begin. Normal practices usually involve pruning weakened and affected sections, adding cabling and bracing, and/or providing appropriate irrigation and fertilization.