Hurricane Season

When Will My Tree Fall on My House?

When Will My Tree Fall on My House?

Have you ever wondered if the large trees by your house would fall on it during some wind or storm event? First, stop worrying. Most trees in residential settings are sound and have many years of healthy life before becoming a hazard to your home. However, if your tree is unsafe it could be a threat to lives and property. How does a tree become a hazard?

“Many shade and ornamental trees are damaged throughout the year by windstorms, lightning or ice and snow accumulations,” notes Tchukki Andersen, CTSP*, Board Certified Master Arborist and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “Damage usually consists of a few broken branches. However, more severe damage – such as splitting or pulling apart of branch unions, removal of large areas of bark, twisting and splitting of the trunk or even uprooting – pose possible dangers.”

A few tree species, including Chinese elm, silver maple, boxelder and various poplars, have brittle wood that is easily broken. These rapidly growing trees cause a considerable amount of damage to homes, cars, buildings and utility lines each year. Homeowners should be aware of these characteristics and avoid planting them close to potential targets. If such trees are already growing in these locations, preventive pruning, bracing or cabling may help reduce storm damage this winter. This is particularly true as the tree grows in size and the weight and surface of the leaf and branch area increases.

Over the years, growing trees will add more leaves, become heavier and “catch” more wind, so they are prone to increased mechanical stresses, thus increasing the chances of failure. Larger trees will also affect an increased area should they or their larger limbs fall. This means that homes, other structures and power lines that might not have been threatened a few years ago might now be under threat by a tree that has grown. Preparing trees to better withstand these natural events is necessary and should be done well in advance of storm season. To help ease these dangers, have a professional arborist evaluate your trees. Doing this will help identify potential weaknesses and dangers.

Look at your trees for the following warning signs:

  • Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches that could fall and cause damage or injury
  • Cracked stems and branch forks that could cause catastrophic failure of a tree section
  • Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs or mushrooms growing from the bark could indicate a decayed and weakened stem
  • Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk also indicate structural weakness
  • Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them
  • Tight, V-shaped forks, which are much more prone to failure than open U-shaped forks
  • Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system

Remember, too, that a tree is a living thing, and its integrity and stability change over time. Don’t assume that a tree that has survived 10 severe storms will necessarily survive an eleventh

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best course of action to care for and maintain the trees and shrubs in your landscape. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. TCIA has more than 2,400 member tree care firms and affiliated companies. All member tree care companies recognize stringent safety and performance standards and are required to carry liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, where applicable.

TCIA has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Find A Tree Care Company” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on

CSU 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast: Slightly Above-Average

CSU 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast: Slightly Above-Average

April 5, 2018, 11:34 AM EDT

A slightly above-average Atlantic hurricane season is likely in 2018, said the hurricane forecasting team from Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 5. Led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, with coauthor Dr. Michael Bell, the CSU team is calling for an Atlantic hurricane season with 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 130. The long-term averages for the period 1981 – 2010 were 12 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes, 2 intense hurricanes, and an ACE of 92. The CSU outlook also calls for a 63% chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. in 2018 (long term average is 52%), with a 39% chance for the East Coast and Florida Peninsula (long term average is 31%), and a 38% chance for the Gulf Coast (long term average is 30%). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 52% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (long term average is 42%).

Five years with similar pre-season February and March atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as “analog” years that the 2018 hurricane season may resemble. These years were characterized by weak La Niña to weak El Niño conditions during August-October, but with a wide variety of tropical and North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) patterns, due to the large uncertainty as to what the Atlantic SSTs will look like this summer and fall:

1960 (8 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes)
1967 (8 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 1 intense hurricane)
1996 (13 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 6 intense hurricane)
2006 (10 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes)
2011 (19 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes)

The average activity for these years was 11.6 named storms, 6.2 hurricanes, 3.0 major hurricanes, and an ACE of 114—slightly above the long-term average. The most notable storms during these years were Category 4 Hurricane Donna of 1960, Category 5 Hurricane Beulah of 1967, Category 3 Hurricane Fran of 1996, and Category 3 Hurricane Irene of 2011.

Mixed signals on El Niño/La Niña phase and SSTs

The CSU team cited two main reasons why this may be a slightly above-average hurricane season:

1) The current weak La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific appears likely to transition to neutral conditions over the next several months, but it is not anticipated that there will be a significant El Niño event this summer/fall. If El Niño conditions are present this fall, this would tend to favor a slower-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season due to an increase in the upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic that can tear storms apart (higher vertical wind shear).

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were 0.7°C below average during March in the so-called Niño 3.4 region (5°S – 5°N, 120°W – 170°W), where SSTs must be at least 0.5°C below average for five consecutive months (each month being a 3-month average) for a weak La Niña event to be declared (and atmospheric conditions must also be consistent with La Niña). However, these temperatures have warmed 0.1°C since January, and in their latest March 8 monthly advisory, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicted that the current weak La Niña event that began in August 2017 was near its end, with a 55% chance that it will transition to a neutral state by May. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology declared La Niña officially over in the March 13 installment of its biweekly report. The bureau uses a more stringent threshold than NOAA for defining La Niña: sea-surface temperatures in the Niño3.4 region of the tropical Pacific must be at least 0.8°C below average, vs. the NOAA benchmark of 0.5°C below average.

There is considerable uncertainty with the future state of El Niño during the 2018 hurricane season. The latest predictions from a large number of statistical and dynamical El Niño models show a large spread by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season in August-October. About 1/3 of all forecast models are calling for El Niño conditions, with all but one of the remaining models calling for neutral conditions.

2) The western tropical Atlantic is anomalously warm right now, while portions of the eastern tropical Atlantic and far North Atlantic are anomalously cool. Consequently, the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) index is near its long-term average. A positive AMO is typically linked with above-average Atlantic hurricane activity; a negative AMO is typically associated with below-average activity.

As always, the CSU team included this standard disclaimer:

“Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

SST anomaly
Figure 1. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for late March 2018. SSTs in the hurricane Main Development Region (MDR) between Africa and Central America were below average in the eastern Atlantic, and above average in the Caribbean. Virtually all African tropical waves originate in the MDR, and these tropical waves account for 85% of all Atlantic major hurricanes and 60% of all named storms. When SSTs in the MDR are much above average during hurricane season, a very active season typically results (if there is no El Niño event present). Conversely, when MDR SSTs are cooler than average, a below-average Atlantic hurricane season is more likely. The SST pattern above is a mixture of signals of both the positive and negative phases of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) pattern. The AMO has generally been in a positive phase since 1995, which has been associated with an active hurricane period. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

How good are the April forecasts?

April forecasts of hurricane season activity are low-skill, since they must deal with the so-called “spring predictability barrier.” April is the time of year when the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon commonly undergoes a rapid change from one state to another, making it difficult to predict whether we will have El Niño, La Niña, or neutral conditions in place for the coming hurricane season. Last year’s CSU April forecast called for a slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season for 2017, with 11 named storms, 4 hurricanes, 2 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 75. This forecast ended up being far too low, as the season actually had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, 6 major hurricanes, and an ACE of 226. The next CSU forecast, due on May 31, is the one worth paying attention to. Their late May/early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years. NOAA issues its first seasonal hurricane forecast for 2018 in late May, with an update in August.

Forecast skill
Figure 2. Comparison of the percent improvement in mean square error over climatology for seasonal hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic from NOAA, CSU and Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) from 2003-2017, using the Mean Square Skill Score (MSSS). Values less than zero indicate that pure climatology does a better job than the forecast. The figure shows the results using two different climatologies: a fixed 50-year (1951 – 2000) climatology, and a 10-year 2008 – 2017 climatology. Skill is poor for forecasts issued in December and April, modest for June forecasts, and moderate-to-good for August forecasts. Using this methodology, TSR has had the best seasonal forecasts. Image credit: Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (TSR).

TSR predicts a slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season

The April 5 forecast for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season made by British private forecasting firm Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (TSR) calls for a slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season–about 15% below the long-term (1950-2017) norm and the recent 2008-2017 ten-year norm. TSR is predicting 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 2 intense hurricanes and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 84 for the period May through December. The long-term averages for the past 68 years are 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes and an ACE of 103. TSR rates their skill level as low for these April forecasts–just 2 – 7% higher than a “no-skill” forecast made using climatology. TSR predicts a 32% chance that U.S. landfalling ACE index will be above average, a 25% chance it will be near average, and a 43% chance it will be below average. They project that two named storms and one hurricane will hit the U.S. The averages from the 1950-2017 climatology are three named storms and one hurricane. They rate their skill at making these April forecasts for U.S. landfalls at 0% – 4% higher than a “no-skill” forecast made using climatology. In the Lesser Antilles Islands of the Caribbean, TSR projects one tropical storm and no hurricanes. Climatology is one tropical storm and less than 0.5 hurricanes.

TSR’s main predictor for their statistical model of Atlantic hurricane activity is the forecast July – September trade wind speed over the Caribbean and tropical North Atlantic. Their model is calling for trade winds 0.49 m/s faster than average, due to the anticipated neutral El Niño/La Niña conditions during the summer/autumn of 2018. Stronger than normal trade winds during July-August-September are associated with less spin and increased vertical wind shear over the hurricane main development region, factors that reduce hurricane frequency and intensity. The next TSR forecast will be issued on May 30.

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Hurricane names for 2018 are out: Are you on the list?

Hurricane names for 2018 are out: Are you on the list?

Updated May 07, 2018
By: Roberto Villalpando, American-Statesman Staff

The National Hurricane Center’s official list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names for 2018 is out – did your name make the cut this year?

Actually, there’s not much mystery to the list because the names are used in rotation and recycled every six years. For instance, many of the names in 2018 will be used again in 2024.

But sometimes the named storms gain enough notoriety for their death and damage that the names are “retired” from the list – sort of the meteorological version of retiring the jersey number of a star athlete.

Four storms last year had their names retired: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and Tropical Storm Nate.

Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane that devastated Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, was the second-costliest storm in U.S. history; Irma tore across the island chains in the Caribbean Sea, killing more than 100 people; and Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, where many islanders still remain without power.

Nate hit Central America as a tropical storm before moving north to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Their names will be replaced in the 2023 list with Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.

The names of Atlantic tropical storms are maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.

When the Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1, the sequence of names for 2018 will be:

  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Chris
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Florence
  • Gordon
  • Helene
  • Isaac
  • Joyce
  • Kirk
  • Leslie
  • Michael
  • Nadine
  • Oscar
  • Patty
  • Rafael
  • Sara
  • Tony
  • Valerie
  • William

Next year’s sequence of names goes like this: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy

Article via

How To Trim Large Tree Branches

How To Trim Large Tree Branches

By: Julie Day

Nicely healed (and healing) pruning wounds.

If you’re trimming heavy tree limbs, you have to be extra careful not to damage the bark or interfere with the tree’s natural healing response. Doing it right is actually no more difficult than doing it wrong, particularly if you think ahead to how much work it would take to remove a dead tree!

Here’s how to cut large tree limbs in your yard in three simple steps.

Poorly healed wound due to an improper pruning cut.

How Trees Heal

The truth is, trees don’t actually heal like we do. When you cut off a tree branch, the tree forms a special callous tissue (like a scar) that covers over the wound to keep out disease and decay. That scarred part of the tree will be there forever, sealed off so that the rest of the tree can keep growing. It’s very important to prune trees correctly so that we don’t interfere with this process – incorrect pruning will leave the tree weak and vulnerable to disease.

In the top photo, you can see the evidence of several large pruning cuts. The bumps show well healed pruning scars, most of them completely covered over. The “donut” shaped scar is normal, too. The callous tissue grows from the outside edges toward the center, so it’s still in the process of sealing over.

Take the time to do it right.

How to Cut a Tree Limb

Proper pruning of large tree limbs involves three cuts:

    • Cut #1, Notch Cut: Cut a small notch in the bottom of the limb, 2-3 feet away from the trunk, and about a quarter of the way through. This notch will keep the bark from splitting when you make the next cut.
    • Cut #2, Relief Cut: Just outside the notch, make a relief cut completely through the branch. This removes the weight of the branch, so that you can make your final cut without the branch splitting and falling.
  • Cut #3, Final Cut: This is the one that matters! Your final cut should be right where the branch collar (that swollen bump) transitions to smooth branch bark. Follow the slant of the branch collar. If you can’t fit your saw into the crotch at the right angle, then cut it from the bottom up.

Common Tree Trimming Mistakes

    • Cutting the Branch Too Short: We used to think that branches should be cut off flush with the trunk – boy, were we ever wrong! The branch collar is responsible for forming the scar tissue. If you cut into the branch collar, the tree will have a very hard time recovering. When you see rotten holes in tree trunks, or seeping wounds, you’re looking at the aftermath of cutting off the branch collar.

    • Leaving the Branch Too Long: The branch collar on the truck can only do its job of allowing the wound to heal if all of the branch that it has to cover over has been removed while leaving the branch collar itself intact. In the photo on the right, you can see how the branch stubs that were left too long are interfering with and actually preventing the healing process from taking place.

  • Failure to Make the Relief Cuts: If you fail to make the relief cuts and remove most of the weight of the limb before trimming the branch back to the trunk, you run the risk of having the branch split off. This can cause substantial damage to the trunk, as seen in the photo at right. This can make the wound on the trunk susceptible to disease and insect infestation and take much longer to heal.

Thunderstorms & Lightning |

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In 2010 there were 29 fatalities and 182 injuries from lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

Thunderstorms & Lightning |

Hurricane Preparedness Checklists for Homes

Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Home

Hurricanes can be dangerous, listening to the hurricane warning messages and planning ahead can reduce the chances of injury or major property damage.


Know your Emergency Shelters

Contact the National Disaster Office for the closest shelters.

Have disaster supplies on hand

Flashlight and extra batteries

Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries

First aid kit

Non-perishable (canned food) and water

Non-electric can opener

Essential medicines

Cash and credit cards

Sturdy shoes

Protect your windows

Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood–marine plywood is best–cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.

Trim back branches from trees

Trim branches away from your home and cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property.

Check into your Home and Auto Insurance

Confirm that policies are valid and coverage is appropriate.

Make arrangements for pets and livestock

Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Contact your local humane society for information on animal shelters.

Develop an emergency communication plan

Make sure that all family members know what to do. Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Teach children how and when to call police or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Hurricane Watches and Warnings

A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.


Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports.

Check emergency supplies.

Fuel car.

Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.

Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows.

Remove outside antennas and satellite dishes.

Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.

Store drinking water in clean jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.


If you need to evacuate your home, lock up home and go to the nearest shelter.

Take blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.

Listen constantly to a radio or television for official instructions.

Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.

Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.

Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.

If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.

via Hurricane Preparedness Checklists for Homes.

Hurricane Survival Kit

Hurricane Survival Kit

by Dr. Rick Knabb

Essential Items

During a hurricane, and possibly for days or even weeks afterward, electricity and other utilities might not be available. Debris and/or water might block the roads, preventing vehicles from getting in our out of your neighborhood. Help might not reach you for days after the hurricane, so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient during that period.

Here are some of the most critical supplies to have on hand, well before a hurricane threatens:

  • At least a 3-day and preferably a 7-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Formula, diapers, and other baby supplies
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines
  • Toiletries
  • Cell phones and battery-powered cell phone chargers
  • Battery-powered radios and flashlights
  • Plenty of batteries
  • Extra cash
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games (especially if evacuating)

via Hurricane Survival Kit.