Q&A on the News

Q: There seems to be a disproportionately large number of trees that go down during storms in this area. Why is that?

—Ann Spalding, Hoschton

A: Trees topple over for a variety of reasons, including strong winds, root or trunk damage, or the type of soil in which they’re planted. Trees around the Atlanta and throughout Georgia might have suffered root damage during the drought that impacted the state the past few years, Bob Delbridge, an Atlanta arborist and owner of 404-CUT-TREE, a tree removal and care firm, told the AJC in March. He said the dry conditions killed many of the “micro roots” that help support trees. The ground then becomes saturated in heavy rains, combining a “bad foundation and squishy soil.” “Add to that the wind and you have the perfect storm,” Delbridge said. “You have this massive column of weight and the least amount of wind can topple it over.” Some trees are impacted by a change in their surroundings, such as if it was once surrounded by other trees and now stands alone, where it receives the full force of weather, according to ScientificAmerican.com. Signs of damage could include cankers (or ulcers) on trunks, damage or mushrooms at the base of the tree or black fungus on visible roots,” Delbridge said. Also, trees in urban areas sometimes don’t have room for proper root growth or have had their roots cut, crushed or torn, the Scientific American article reported.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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