Trees that are decayed/diseased are at greater risk from wind. Trees in closely spaced groups that have drawn or over-extended canopies, trees that have been exposed to new wind loading as a result of nearby trees being removed, trees that are heavily infested with ivy or other climbing plants and trees that have had their roots damaged are also at risk.
Relatively shorter lived species such as willow, birch and poplar tend to have reduced strategies for coping with extreme events compared to longer lived species like oak, yew and beech.
During high winds people should avoid or minimize their proximity to areas where trees or branches could fall. Buildings will usually provide a good level of protection. After winds have passed look at the tree for obvious new defects, broken or hanging branches, new cracks in the trunk or branches and root plate movement. A reputable arboricultural contractor or Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor should be used to carry out tree works.
If someone has general liability concerns a reputable Arboricultural consultant, (AA Approved), can provide a qualified written report, assessment of risk and appropriate recommendations.
If a tree fails, a decision has to be taken to decide whether people or property is in danger. Work can then be scheduled according to priorities. If the tree is in a conservation area or has a TPO, Tree Preservation Order, it may be appropriate to notify the local authority. If it has fallen across a road or footpath then the police or highways authority should be informed.
We have to evaluate the level of risk to our operatives and the public. We endeavour to control the risks and hazards in any operational scenario to ensure safety. In some situations this may simply involve closing a road or evacuating and area until it is safe to work or suitable equipment can be mobilized. Often a broken branch or partially failed tree can be brought down to ground level and then cleared at a later date. To allow us to meet the demands of our own client base, in stormy conditions, we generally deploy our resources to multiple sites, carrying out minimal works to make safe. This allows us to serve more people in a challenging and changing situation.