How Much Wind Can a Tree Withstand?

Trees are resilient and can stand up to significant abuse from the elements. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t indestructible–any tree can break in the wind if it’s strong enough. The question is, how much wind can a tree withstand?

Read on for a deeper look into a tree’s wind resistance capabilities, as advised by Dover’s trusted tree service company.

how much wind can a tree withstand

What Does Science Say About Tree Wind Resistance?

Since the cyclone that swept across the southwest of France in 2009, scientists have pointed out that trees of different diameters, heights, and electric properties can break at the same time. These studies infer that it’s the high wind speed that causes a tree to break, not the tree’s characteristics or size. 

For many years, scientists believed that trees were prone to breaking at wind speeds of 94 mph. However, in 2016, Ecole Polytechnique and ESPCI ParisTech’s study confirmed that all trees break at wind speeds of just 90 mph.

Factors Affecting Tree’s Wind Resistance

How much wind can a tree withstand beyond this? Its longevity will depend on several factors that play a role in your tree’s structural integrity, such as:

Soil Structure

The soil upon which a tree grows determines how much wind it can withstand. For instance, your tree will have a higher wind resistance in dense, clay-based soil than in loose, sandy soil. 

Additionally, compacted soils provide fewer pockets for roots and water. A tree will have a hard time developing a deep, dense root system in such conditions. As such, it’ll be more likely to succumb to strong winds. 

Root System

The depth and density of your tree’s root system play an integral role in its wind resistance. If your tree has shallow roots, it’ll be less stable and more prone to uprooting. A denser root system will provide stronger support for a much higher wind resistance.  

The Tree’s Age and Health

The older a tree grows, the taller and less flexible it becomes. This makes it more prone to wind damage. A disease or pest infestation will also worsen the situation!

Three Main Ways a Tree Can Break Under Strong Winds

  • Uprooting. If your tree has decaying roots or grows in a water-logged ground, it’ll often uproot in intense wind storms, a phenomenon known as windthrow. 
  • Snapping. In the unlikely event that the roots remain intact at wind speeds above 94 mph, the tree’s trunk is likely to snap due to bending or torsion. This applies to all tree species, regardless of their size.
  • Breaking boughs. Strong winds may cause your tree’s main branches to break. 

Contact Your Local Tree Experts for Assistance

Just how much wind can a tree withstand? Learn more when you chat to our go-to local arborist at Brooke Tree Service. Whether you want to know how canopy density affects wind resistance or something less complicated, you can count on us for answers.

We provide a wide range of services, including:

  • Tree planting
  • Tree removal
  • Tree trimming & pruning

Contact Brooke Tree Service at (508) 613-5044 today for an estimate or to learn the significance of a professional tree removal service.


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