Nova Scotia

Hurricane Juan caused some long-term damage to Halifax trees

Some of the mature trees in Halifax that look like a strong wind might blow them over could actually be suffering long-term effects of Hurricane Juan.

Wind storms can cause root damage and lead to cracking

Heavy winds can cause twisting and turning inside the tree that may be causing cracking years later. (CBC)

Some of the mature trees in Halifax that look like a strong wind could blow them over might actually be suffering long-term effects of Hurricane Juan.

The Category 2 hurricane flattened thousands of trees in September 2003 with winds of more than 145 km/h.

But even the ones that survived could have hidden damage.

"We can see damage 15 years after a major wind storm," said Kevin Osmond, supervisor of urban forestry with the City of Halifax.

"That'll be root damage and twisting and turning inside the tree that may be causing cracking."

The city is trying to preserve trees so if some limbs are drooping dangerously, crews may remove them instead of the entire tree. (CBC)

Halifax has a high percentage of Norway Maples which are susceptible to root issues and cracking. That's one of the reasons they are no longer on the city's replanting list.

A dead or dying tree may not get taken down right away, even if someone complains. Osmond says a crew will come by and check it out.  

"We're trying to preserve our trees in HRM," he said. "We'll assess the tree and if it's just a couple of limbs that have to be removed we'll do that."

Halifax loses about 300 trees a year. But since 2012 it has replanted 4,000 street trees.

Most of the city's pruning operations take place in the fall and winter when the trees are dormant.   

Although problems for mature trees can't be blamed on last year's bitter winter, snow removal and summer landscaping could kill younger trees.  

"We had issues with young trees dying in the spring due to sidewalk plow damage, lots of snow and ice piled around everything and we're trying to clamp down on whippersnip damage," said Osmond.

Hurricane Juan downed trees all over the Halifax region and more than a decade later, the storm's is still having an impact. ((Paul Darrow/Reuters))