Snowy, icy trees can present a danger during storm

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comFebruary 12, 2014 

Snow and ice don’t create a problem only on roadways during a winter storm. They also can make trees dangerous to property and power lines.

“If we’re talking about snow, snow will just lay on the tree and be a non-event,” said Austin Proctor, manager of the Rock Hill branch of Bartlett Tree Experts. “If we end up with ice, ice will accumulate on anything that’s able to hold it up.”

Ice sticks to trees, limbs, branches and can make them bend and break, causing serious damage to the trees themselves.

“The other effect can be broken trees or tree parts on buildings, walkways, driveways and all kinds of things, not to mention the biggest hazard, utility lines,” Proctor said.

The ice can stick to the lines themselves, making them more prone to fall. Ice on trees and lines means residents should take precautions, he said.

Any tree that might be in contact with power lines – even if they don’t look like they’re damaged – should be avoided, Proctor said, because power can flow through the trees and electrocute someone who touches them.

If a tree or limbs are down on power lines, residents should call their utility company, because they hire tree companies to do the actual removal. Other downed trees that don’t involve lines will be prioritized by the hazard they present to people and property, he said.

For instance, limbs on houses get priority over those that are blocking a driveway or sidewalk.

But, Proctor said, he and his crews will not go out until it is safe for them to do so.

“Days like today, we’re not going to put our own guys on the road,” he said. “As soon as conditions are safe, we’re ready to get out and start helping folks as needed.”

And people should not try to handle tree removal or repair themselves, he said.

“Plenty of people are good weekend warriors, but they should leave this to the professionals,” he said.

This is the most significant snow event Proctor said he can remember since 2000. After that storm it took some people weeks or even months to get their tree problems addressed.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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