Snow-battered Trees Present New Dangers For Fargo-Moorhead

After last weeks snowstorm, trees in our region are presenting new dangers for pedestrians and motorists.

If you’ve been around the Concordia and MSUM campuses over the weekend, you’re no stranger to downed branches, damaged trees and a mess near the roads.
Moorhead Public Works isn’t either. It has been overwhelmed with calls ranging from branch pickups to tree removals.

“We are prioritizing our workload right now, so our top priority is downed trees and dangerous hangers, and so we’ll come out and assess those, and if there is no immediate concern we may leave those hangers until we can get to them, but we’ll try to mitigate the ones that are immediate risks first.” said Moorhead Public Works Director, Steve Moore.

Moorhead Public Works says that the real danger lies in what they call ‘hangers.’
Weak branches that when weighed down with enough snow, are at risk of snapping off of the tree.

“We have had some vehicles that have been damaged by tree limbs that have fallen.” said Steve.

Landscaping and tree care services say snow events this early in the year are a particular hazard as most of the leaves haven’t fallen off trees yet, and they provide more surface area for snow to fall on, resulting in more stress on the branches.

“If there was a weak point in the tree preexisting to a snow event of this nature, it certainly exposed it afterwards.” said Brent Keller, a project manager at S&S Landscaping.

According to tree care experts, it’s important to properly prune and trim the tree to avoid situations where hangers may develop in the future.

This includes pruning to get rid of Y-Crotches, a Y-shaped connection point between two branches. Y-Crotches are at a higher risk of becoming ‘hangers’ during snow events.

It’s easier to prune the tree early in its life as they can become harder to prune as they mature.

“If it’s a large mature tree and there is something hanging well above what you’d be comfortable with on a step ladder, I would recommend contacting a professional tree service.” said Brent.

The City of Moorhead says that it needs help from the public to find and identify dangerous trees.

“If you see a hanger, just report it, and we’ll go out and assess it.” said Steve.

Moorhead is offering tree trimming services for boulevard trees and free pickup services for piles of branches every other week on your recycling day.

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