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When Trees Become a Storm Hazard in Las Vegas

In February 2023, a powerful winter storm passed through the Winchester district of East Las Vegas. Several trees were uprooted overnight. Some Winchester residents reported hearing a loud boom that they initially thought was thunder, but it was actually a 40-foot tree that had been completely blown out of its spot by strong wind gusts. The storm was followed the next day by snow flurries, and it is a reminder that you don’t have to wait for monsoon season to experience strong winds around Las Vegas.

The reality of trees planted in the Las Vegas Valley is that they are more prone to uprooting than in other areas of the Great Basin. This can be explained by the sandy and alkaline soil typical of the Mojave Desert, which does not allow for deep root growth. It applies to both native and transplanted species. This regional factor of shallow roots calls for preventive trimming and pruning of trees, but there are also warning signs to look out for.

Damaged Tree Trunks

Many trees withstand lighting strikes that partially split their trunks. Although they can heal on their own, their weakened structures lower their wind resistance and make them more prone to uprooting. If you wish to keep a trunk-damaged tree as it recovers, you will have to keep it trimmed.

Leaning Trees

Trees that are leaning are more likely to be uprooted by windstorms because they are already out of balance. Since this is often caused by the weight of branches on one side of the tree, it makes sense to keep it pruned so that it does not topple over or even break at the trunk.

Dead and Loose Limbs

Heavy branches are always dangerous. When tree limbs are dead or dying, they are more likely to break off during a windstorm. You can’t expect limbs to break and safely detach. If they get tangled in the canopy, they can put additional stress on the tree and make it more likely to be uprooted when affected by wind gusts.

Loose and Wet Soil

As previously indicated, soil conditions in Las Vegas Valley do not allow deep root growth, but other factors can make matters worse for trees during storms. If your property was built before the 1990s, chances are that it has a septic tank for wastewater disposal. When these systems spring leaks around the drain field, the resulting loose soil makes it easier for storms to uproot trees, particularly if their branches create drag.

Bluegrass Tree & Lawn provides trimming and pruning of trees for residential and commercial clients in Columbus, OH. Contact us today to discuss trimming options before your trees become a windstorm hazard.