Stormy Weather in the U.S. Brings Tree Fall Fatalities
While Northern California is enjoying sunny summer weather, large portions of the country have been experiencing stormy conditions in early August related to Tropical Storm Isaias. One particular danger that such heavy storms can bring is that of falling trees. The first week of August brought a tragic spate of tree fall fatalities.
What Causes Trees to Fall?
Trees, especially trees with health issues, are prone to break and fall during stormy conditions for a variety of reasons, including:
- Wind: The tree trunk can act as a lever in heavy winds, allowing the wind to actually uproot the tree. This danger is increased for tall trees since the force applied to the trunk and roots is greater in proportion to the tree’s height. Wind uprooting can also happen if the area in which a tree stands was previously protected by other trees that have since been cut down.
- Rain: Heavy rains saturate the ground, which makes it easier for trees to topple in heavy winds.
- Ice: The weight of ice on tree branches can make them much heavier and prone to break and fall.
- Lightning: Lightning striking a tree can cause it or its branches to fall. It can also weaken its structure so that it is more vulnerable to future severe weather.
A Deadly Day of Tree Fall Fatalities
Tuesday, August 4, 2020, was a day that tragically illustrated the danger of falling trees. There were three fatalities, and one instance of critical injury, in three different states caused by trees falling.
- In Mechanicsville, Maryland, on the morning of August 4th, a tree fell onto a moving vehicle. This happened as Tropical Storm Isaias blew through the region. The driver of the vehicle was traveling southbound on Three Notch Road when a tree that lined the shoulder of the road collapsed onto the vehicle, trapping the driver inside and killing the driver at the scene.
- In Queens, New York, a 60-year-old man was sitting in a 2014 Dodge Ram, which was parked in front of a house in Briarwood when the trunk of a tree fell onto the vehicle at approximately 1:00 p.m. The tree crushed the roof of the vehicle and pinned the man inside. Sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
- That same day, a woman was walking in Brownsville, Brooklyn, around 2:00 p.m. She sustained critical injuries when a tree branch fell and hit her in the head, and she remains in the hospital. The two New York incidents were also related to inclement weather.
- Also, on August 4th, at around 11:00 a.m., a woman in Milford, Delaware, was killed when a tree branch fell and struck her. It is believed that the woman was outside her home, assessing storm damage after high winds and tropical storm conditions related to Isaias had passed through the region. At that time, the tree branch fell from a tree and struck her. Around 11.45 a.m., local police responded to a call reporting a deceased adult female.
Below is a news clip reporting on the New York tree incidents.
A Somewhat Predictable Danger
Tree fall injuries and tree fall fatalities are not just unpredictable freak accidents. In stormy conditions, trees, especially those that have underlying health conditions, fall with alarming frequency. In the past few months in Northern California, we have witnessed the tragedy of trees falling on camping tents, resulting in injuries and death. The danger is always there, and it is something we should all be aware of while keeping an eye out for signs of vulnerable trees.
I’m Ed Smith, a Davis tree accident lawyer. With surprising regularity, tree fall fatalities occur. If someone you love sustained severe or fatal injuries due to a tree falling, please reach out to my office for compassionate, free, and friendly advice. Our local number is (503) 392-9400. I also have a toll-free number if you will be calling from outside the region: (800) 404-5400.
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Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/storm-damage-oak-tree-break-597217/
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