There’s one thing that can make a tree suddenly become a very dangerous threat to your home, car or property – a big ice storm. Avoid tree damage from ice – here’s how.

Ice storms happen every winter in Maryland. They’re the one type of storm everyone hates because they pose so many different type of threats and hazards. An “ice storm” happened when supercooled rain freezes on contact with surfaces that are already at or below freezing. The more precipitation there is, the more ice accumulates on surfaces, including trees and their branches.

According to the Department of Forestry (ref 1.), “Accumulations of ice can increase the branch weight of trees by 30 times or more. Ice formation generally ranges from a trace to 1 inch in additional stem diameter. Accumulations between 1/4 and 1/2 inch can cause small branches and weak limbs to break, while 1/2-inch to 1-inch accumulations can cause larger branches to break, resulting in extensive tree damage. Branch failure occurs when loading from the weight of ice exceeds wood resistance or when constant loading further stresses a weakened area in a branch.”

Any wind that comes along with the storm exasperates the problem, and that’s when a town can suddenly experience property damage in the multi-millions of dollars.

Trees Most Susceptible

Some trees are just not well built to handle storms. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Bradford Pear trees seem to always split or fall after a storm. Some trees have characteristics that indicate the tree itself is unlikely to far well in an ice storm. If you have trees with these traits near your home, car, driveway, or utility lines, you may be at a severe risk in the next storm:

For reference, here is a list (ref 2.) of trees that are more or less resistant to ice storms should they occur. Note, this is not an exhaustive list.

Susceptible Intermediate Resistance Resistant
American elm Bur oak American sweetgum
Black cherry Eastern white pine Arborvitae
Black locust Northern red oak Bald cypress
Bradford Pear Red maple Black walnut
Common hackberry Sugar maple Blue beech
Green ash Sycamore Catalpa
Honey locust Tuliptree Eastern Hemlock
Pin oak White Ash Ginkgo
Siberian elm Ironwood
Silver maple White Oak


The key to avoiding a ice storm damage is in regular tree maintenance. Get rid of those who do pose a risk, and trim up those who may pose a risk.

We would be happy to provide a free evaluation and assessment of your property, identifying all the hazard trees and an approach to dealing with them.

Call us today to schedule your free evaluation and/or quote or submit a request form online!



  2. Hauer et al. (1993)