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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 45, Issue 6 — November 2019

Boulevard Tree Failures During Wind Loading Events

Gary Johnson, Chad Giblin, Ryan Murphy, Eric North, and Aaron Rendahl

Abstract: Wind loading events vary in their intensity and degree of damage inflicted on urban infrastructure, both green and gray. Damage to urban trees can begin with wind speeds as low as 25 miles per hour, especially when those trees harbor defects that predispose them to structural failures. The tree damage triangle integrates the three main factors that influence tree failures during wind loading events, namely the site characteristics, the (wind) loading event and any defects of the trees in question. The degree of damage that trees experience is generally a function of these factors overlapping each other. For instance, when the potential damage from wind loading events is exacerbated by poor tree architecture and compromised site conditions, the likelihood of significant damage is realized. Two studies on the damage to urban trees and the predictability of damage are reviewed; one study is a longterm gathering of wind loading events and accompanying damage to trees while the other is a case study of one storm in one city on one day. Both studies revealed critical pre-existing conditions that left trees vulnerable to whole tree losses: large trees in limited boulevard widths and severed roots as a result of sidewalk repair.

Keywords: Boulevard Tree Failures During Wind Loading Events

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