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Rains return, so watch for weakened tree roots

POSTED: June 5, 2009 12:13 a.m.

Recent rains have helped lift most of Georgia out of extreme drought conditions, but they have also made trees more dangerous.

"The drought has taken its toll and will continue to take its toll for years to come," said Sherry Lizotte, a Gainesville based certified arborist.

"The drought has compromised the root system of many trees and once the root zone is compromised, the tree is weakened and can fall over more easily."

After the rainfall Thursday afternoon, power outages associated with trees falling on power lines were reported in two areas around Gainesville.

With the rains expected to continue, homeowners should continue keeping an eye on trees near their homes.

"Property owners should be on the look out for trees that are showing signs of stress, because they are weaker than healthy trees (and could fall on buildings). Large, dead branches are obvious signs that a tree is stressed, which makes it weaker than a healthy tree," Lizotte said.

She also warns that homeowners should pay close attention to seemingly healthy trees with root systems that come in contact with vehicles driven near them or where excessive amounts of soil have been added or removed.

"Those sorts of things can compact a tree’s root system. If it becomes compacted, that weakens and compromises the system, which puts the tree in danger of falling," Lizotte said.

As the rains return, anyone headed to the Relay for Life at Road Atlanta in Braselton tonight or one of the Dahlonega wine festivals probably will want to pack an umbrella or raincoat.

According to the National Weather Service, showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue today through Saturday night. Today, there is a 70 percent chance of rain in the afternoon with an expected high around 73. Tonight the chance of rain drops to 30 percent with a low around 63.

Saturday will be partly cloudy and the high is expected to reach 80 degrees. Forecasters predict that Sunday will be partly sunny with highs reaching 86.



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