Trees in High Winds
Property owners are urged to resist the temptation to remove trees due to concerns about safety following the gale force winds that have battered the coast from Sydney to Newcastle and beyond earlier this week.
Where there is obvious and immediate risk, appropriate steps should be taken. However, countless trees are removed following extreme storm events based on people’s unfounded perceptions of danger.
Yes, trees can fall over in strong winds and do fall on houses in some instances. However, it is extremely rare that anyone inside a house is killed by a falling tree. Whilst a house may be damaged, it provides protection to the inhabitants. Emergency services advise people to take shelter in houses because that is the safest place to be, especially during cyclones.
Trees absorb energy from the wind and dissipate it primarily through movement of the leaves, branches and trunk with residual energy transferred via the trunk to the roots. Research after cyclone Tracy showed that houses with wind-break protection suffered less damage than wind-exposed buildings.