UACES Facebook Ice storm recovery: Assess the damage safely
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Ice storm recovery: Assess the damage safely

Disaster recovery information available online.

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Feb. 3, 2023

Fast facts

  • Stay away from downed powerlines
  • Assess to prioritize which trees need to be addressed first
  • Disaster recovery information available online

(567 words)
Newsrooms; with photos

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LITTLE ROCK —  Even though the ice storm has passed, some of its dangers haven’t.

Some parts of Arkansas received three rounds of wintry weather this week. The National Weather Service at Little Rock said parts of the north Arkansas received 1 to 2 inches of sleet. Across the central part of the state,  from Oklahoma to the Mississipppi River, freezing rain dropped more than a quarter inch of ice.

Wintry precipitation plagued the southern half of the state Wednesday into Thursday. Some 72,000 people across southern Arkansas were without power on Thursday.

The ice and sleet weighed heavily on trees, arching pines and in some cases, breaking trees. Adding to the danger is saturated soil from melting ice,  making it easier for top-heavy trees to fall.

DOWNED — Tree made top-heavy by ice tumbled into the side of a house in Pulaski County. The tree was uprooted as soils became saturated. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo)

Sounds like an artillery range
Bear State Tales podcaster Matt Manos of Star City described the “steady rumble of tree and large limbs falling south side of Lincoln County” in his @PJMountexplorer Twitter account. With an image of an ice-covered tree falling across a road, he said “’we have moved to the 'sounds like an artillery range’ portion of the ice storm in Lincoln County.” His video snippet of a large falling limb makes the point.

What next?
As the weather clears, homeowners and landowners will be out assessing their properties for potential damage.

First, “stay away from power lines,” said Vic Ford, a forester who heads extension’s agriculture and natural resources for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Report them to the local utility and let the professionals take care of them.”

The next step is to “do a hazard assessment for damaged trees,” said Kyle Cunningham, extension forester for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “What targets are in the path if a tree or limb falls? Injured trees that pose high threats to humans or structures should be dealt with first.

“If the threat to nearby targets is not as significant, removal of those stems can be completed at a more convenient time,” Cunningham said. “Tree removal should include professional assistance, preferably from a certified arborist.”

Cunningham said property owners also need to “evaluate how severe the injury to the tree is.”

“Should I remove the injured portion of the tree or the entire tree? The answer to this question is best answered by an arborist,” he said. “Some rules-of-thumb are that if you can remove less than one-quarter of the tree crown, limb removal will likely not significantly impact tree health. If you must remove greater than one-quarter of the tree crown, risk to tree health, vigor and structural soundness may become questionable.”

What about the bent trees?

“Small trees may appear to permanently bent but research has shown that small trees have an amazing ability to straighten in a few months,” Ford said.

Ford said broken branches should be evaluated when it is safe to examine them. 

“Cutting the broken branches if still attached and trimming up the stub may ensure tree health for the future,” he said.

“The time to remove branches that may cause damage is not during the storm, but way before any storm hits,” Ford said. “Examine the large branches and remove them if they can damage property if they fall. Dead branches should always be removed. A licensed arborist is the best bet to determine proper care of large trees.”

The Cooperative Extension Service has a page dedicated to disaster recovery, including dealing with trees.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media contact: Mary Hightower,