storm damage - broken tree branches

Storm damage. Photo: Mary Ann Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,

Updated: March 1, 2023

Signs of storm damage

  • Storm damage symptoms are often obvious limb breakage and leaf shredding after storms.
  • Winter winds may cause shrubs heavily laden with snow or ice to split and have limb breakage.
  • In many cases, shrubs will bend under the weight of snow and ice but will return to normal when the ice or snow melts.
  • Snow can be removed with a gentle upward sweep of a broom.
  • Ice should be allowed to remain, as attempts to remove it may cause branches or twigs to break.
  • Broken and split branches should be pruned out and removed as soon as possible.
  • Hail damage may shred leaves or cause extensive defoliation.
  • Bark injuries can sometimes lead to damage from disease-causing fungi.
  • Trees struck by lightning may exhibit variable symptoms, from a thin strip of bark being peeled off, to violent breakage. In some cases, the internal wood may be burned without obvious external symptoms.