Swingle: Denver and Colorado Front Range Incur “Significant” Tree Damage from October Snow Storm

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An early snow storm in Denver and along the Colorado Front Range is causing significant tree damage. Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care offers expert outlook and recommendations.

With the majority of the snowfall forecast to arrive today, we expect to see more limbs breaking as snow accumulates. The damage could extend to entire trees snapping or falling under the pressure.

Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care is receiving a flood of calls related to significant damage to trees in and around Denver and the Colorado Front Range. Common issues include: Limbs that have fallen on cars, or blocking roadways, driveways and sidewalks; trees have fallen onto roofs and are leaning on other trees, which is extremely hazardous. A few customers have actually had limbs break while on the phone with our customer care reps—an indication this is far from over.

“The damage is caused by trees still having their leaves due to the recent mild temperatures,” said Kelly Gouge, Swingle’s Director of Operations. “Additionally, heavy rains prior to the beginning snowfall added weight and stress to limbs which is increasing the amount of damage. With the majority of the snowfall forecast to arrive today, we expect to see more limbs breaking as snow accumulates on the already weighted trees. The damage could extend to entire trees snapping or falling under the pressure. These occurrences often indicate more problems in the trees such as stress cracks and breaks that we cannot see and are just waiting to fail. We encourage the public to be safe and use extreme caution. Call a professional tree company to assess any damage.”

What to expect? Safety is the first priority for the general public and tree care professionals. Prioritization of hazardous work followed by non-hazardous storm clean up and finally corrective pruning is the best order of response during these disasters. Licensed tree companies have an obligation to focus on the most hazardous situations first. This would include areas where life or physical property is threatened in some way. This emergency work will keep companies busy for weeks if not months to come. Following the response to hazardous situations, companies should then focus on non-hazardous storm damage work and clean up of initial breakage. Completing this work allows companies to help prevent this non-hazardous damage from becoming hazardous situations in the near future. The final step is corrective pruning. In some cases, this may not occur until three to six months after the actual storm.

Electrical hazards are the biggest concern for the general public and response individuals. All lines such as cable, TV, phone and electrical must be considered ENERGIZED during and immediately after storms. When a line is energized it has the potential of causing bodily injury or even death! This is due to the fact that a branch two or three properties down could be putting pressure on a line causing a metal fence or other conductive object that looks safe to actually pose a potentially fatal hazard. If any question exists as to electrical safety, call Excel Energy at 800-895-4999.

When choosing a service company, it is recommended that you choose a licensed tree care company. Be sure they carry the appropriate insurance in order to protect you if injury or property damage occurs during their work. Companies who are members of The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) all carry the required insurance and can be found at http://www.tcia.org.

Swingle recommends consumers do the following:
1) Before doing any type of work on trees, be absolutely certain no wires are down or are being touched by branches or other objects. This is most important in parts of town with overhead wires. Failure to check could cause injury or death!
2) Determine the scope of your capabilities before proceeding with the work at hand. Many injuries occur when consumers use tools with which they are unfamiliar such as hand saws, chains saws and ladders.
3) Realize that you may not see all the physical damage that has occurred. Branches may fall while you are doing clean up work or can fail as pressure is placed on them when you start to remove the damaged limbs.
4) Due to the significant amount of moisture received, the trees also have very wet feet. Trees such as Aspens and Spruce will be subject to tipping over if winds occur or if pressure is placed on them.
5) Once all these things are taken into account, proceed with safety in mind.

Could consumers have done anything to prevent damage?
Keeping trees healthy through proper pruning, fertilization and watering is critical to the resilience of your trees. However, when the leaves are on trees and we experience this type of storm, as Denver and the Colorado Front Range did in the Spring of 2003 and Fall of 1995, little could have been done to prevent damage. Certain species of trees sustained little or no damage. Weak trees took the biggest hit, followed by cottonwoods, ashes and others. Windy areas have incurred less damage due to the snow being blown off the limbs of the trees and shrubs.

About Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care
Founded in 1947, Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care employs more certified Arborists than any other company in Colorado and has grown to be one of the most respected residential and commercial landscape care companies in the region. For more information, please contact Aaron Dennis at (303) 337-6200 or visit http://www.MySwingle.com.


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