Trees Can Still Be Hazardous Following Severe Storms


After the latest round of winter storms, California saw strong winds, heavy rain and snow that brought dangerous conditions to many communities and additional dangers still exist. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is highlighting the potential hazards posed by trees following severe weather. 

Effects by recent storms can weaken trees, leading to falling branches or even entire trees, which can cause damage to homes, vehicles and pose a threat to public safety. 

Incidents involving falling trees or limbs can result in fatalities and extensive property damage. The sudden occurrence of fallen branches or uprooted trees creates hazardous conditions for pedestrians and motorists. Being especially aware of falling trees and branches during high-wind events can help save your life.  

Recognizing the different ways in which these storms influence local ecosystems and tree cover is essential for informed preparedness and proactive measures to safeguard community well-being.  


During floods, trees near water bodies can become waterlogged, weakening their root systems and increasing the risk of uprooting. Floodwaters can also scour or erode soil around trees, destabilizing them. 

Heavy Snow 

The weight of heavy snow can stress tree limbs, causing them to break and fall. Additionally, snow accumulation on branches can lead to structural damage. If safe to do so, Californians in snow-prone regions should consider regularly removing snow from trees to prevent sudden releases of built-up weight.  

Mudslides and Debris Flows 

Trees on hillsides can exacerbate mudslides and debris flows during heavy rainfall. Their root systems help bind soil, but excessive water can lead to saturation and increased instability. Property owners should be aware of the potential risks and consult with experts (e.g., certified arborists or foresters) to assess and address any such concerns in advance of severe storms. 

Strong Wind and Rain 

High winds and heavy rain combined can create a perfect storm for tree-related hazards. Saturated soil makes it easier for trees to uproot and strong winds can break branches or topple entire trees. Californians are advised to secure loose objects in their yards and be vigilant during storms to avoid tree-related incidents. 

Power and Utilities 

High winds with rains can impact power lines and utilities during storms, leading to outages and safety hazards. Falling branches or uprooted trees can damage power lines, disrupt services and pose a risk to first responders. Cal OES advises Californians to promptly report any tree-related issues near power lines to their power utility company and maintain a safe distance from impacted and downed power lines. 

Signs of a Dangerous Tree Include: 

  • Hanging, broken or damaged limbs 
  • Dead limbs 
  • Changes in the bark 
  • A tree that leans 
  • Root damage 
  • Poor structure 

Cal OES urges Californians to take the following measures to prepare for and mitigate the risks associated with trees during this storm season: 

Tree Inspection  

Conduct a thorough inspection of trees on your property. Look for signs of disease, decay or structural issues. Pay special attention to branches that overhang structures or utility lines. 


Consult with your utility company to trim branches that are close to buildings or power lines. Remove dead or weak branches that could be easily dislodged during a storm. Professional arborists can provide guidance on proper pruning techniques. 

Tree Removal 

Consider removing trees that are in poor health, leaning precariously or pose a significant risk during storms. Consult with a certified arborist or forester to assess the health and stability of trees on your property. 

Monitor Weather 

Stay informed about weather forecasts and emergency alerts to be prepared for upcoming storms and take necessary precautions.