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Arborists fear storm on Saturday could take out trees

MARYSVILLE, Wash – The storm set to hit Western Washington on Saturday evening has arborists concerned.

Companies are working around the clock to take care of damaged and dangerous trees, before the high winds hit, but experts know there will be many missed.

“Our phone doesn’t stop ringing,” said John Lewis of Kenny Tree. He said the last 72 hours for his company have been nonstop with customer inquiries. It’s because of the way trees are formed here in Washington, he said, many of the biggest trees have very shallow root systems by nature. He said they get the water they need, without having to drive down deep to find it.

It causes unstable canopies that can be pulled over by high winds, like what’s expected to hit on Saturday.

Cottonwoods and Hemlocks, he said, are the first to fall in storms. The rain itself, he said, only adds to the danger.

“It loosens the soil and, as I said earlier, our trees are very shallow rooted so it does increase the probability for failure, [when you have] saturated soils plus strong winds.”

He said the one positive about the storm hitting early in the fall is that the ground saturation is at its lowest. We are just now entering the wet season, he said.

Danger trees are those that have been topped, are leaning or are split into two at the base of the tree. He said straight trees with unstable roots can be the most dangerous, because the strike zone is everything within 360 degrees.