Most Popular Stories
- City to ban unsafe fence designs
- ‘There is no cure’: Austin urges people to keep dogs away from possibly toxic blue-green algae
- Austin’s light-rail plans set to advance after narrowly dodging Texas-sized wrecking ball
- On-street light rail route selected as best option for city’s mass transit plan
- Good news, bad news from Legislature for Austin
Discover News By District
- City employees to protest telework policy Thursday
- AFSCME objects to Garza’s return-to-work plan
- Groups gather forces to protest dairy plant redevelopment
- If you’re interested in adopting a dog or a cat, the ongoing “300 Homes” adoption promotion is the time to do it
- Celebrate Marriage Equality by getting hitched
Photo by Mose Buchele/KUT. Piles of broken branches and tree limbs are stacked up along a tree-lined street in West Austin on Monday.
The ice storm damaged some kinds of trees more than others
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 by Mose Buchele, KUT
The ice storm did not affect all of Austin equally. While damaged trees and power outages occurred across town, they seemed to concentrate in certain parts of the city, especially on the west side.
There are many reasons for this. Ice may have accumulated more in certain places thanks to the weather or local geography. Power lines in some areas may have been more recently cleared or cleared to a higher standard.
But the types of trees that predominate in certain neighborhoods also played a role, as some tree species suffered more ice damage than others.
Live oaks and Ashe junipers appear to have been especially hard hit. The reason? These are trees with a lot of limbs that keep their leaves through the winter, providing more surface area for ice to accumulate.
“Just a little bit of additional ice, an additional tenth of an inch or so, will put hundreds and hundreds of pounds of additional stress on a tree,” says Keith White, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Especially a lot of our oaks, like we have in this area.”
The structure of a tree also makes a difference. Trees without a strong central trunk or with “co-dominant stems” were more likely to break, Camille Wiseman, a forester with Texas A&M Forest Service, told KUT in an email.
“Of the live oaks, the trees that had rigorous growth on the ends of their branches, rather than trees with well-distributed branches were more prone to failure,” she wrote.
Karl Flocke, also with the Forest Service, says the location of a tree also mattered.
“Trees that are in a more open environment like a field, neighborhood, or recently cleared forest were hit the hardest since they are exposed on all sides, and can’t rely on neighbors for support,” he wrote KUT in an email.
Regardless of the types of trees in your part of town, officials are urging people to watch out for falling branches in the coming days. Heavy winds are expected to dislodge more limbs that were broken by the storm.
This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.
You're a community leader
And we’re honored you look to us for serious, in-depth news. You know a strong community needs local and dedicated watchdog reporting. We’re here for you and that won’t change. Now will you take the powerful next step and support our nonprofit news organization?