Strong winds, wet soil topple trees as storm season builds strength

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Though the start of 2019 hasn’t equaled last year’s high rainfall totals – last February saw a whopping 9.12 inches of rain – Kilgore has been wet so far this year. Rain has led to a green spring but it can have bad consequences, including falling trees.

Just this week, a tree on Houston Street fell, likely caused by wet soil failing to keep the tree’s root system in place during strong winds.

Kilgore Director of Special Services B.J. Owen said the city doesn’t track the exact number of downed trees in the area but allowed rain-soaked soil can make it more likely for trees to topple.

“When big, tall trees are leaning, they can be more likely to fall if the ground is wet,” Owen said.

“I’m a victim of it. There was a big, old hackberry tree on my property with an exposed root ball that fell. After a big rain it gave out on itself and rolled over.”

Wet soil can be related to a lack of drainage, not just heavy rain.

Owen said, while Kilgore hasn’t been breaking rainfall records in 2019, steady rain and cool temperatures over the past two months mean the ground stays wet longer around tree roots and in other places.

“By May, it might soak up a whole lot faster.”

B.J. Clark, who lives on South Higginbotham Road, tracks rainfall in the area and reported .08 inches of rainfall on Wednesday and 1.68 inches as of 4 p.m. on Thursday

“It has been wet but we’re still short on rainfall for the year. It seems wet because we get a drizzle every day. Until recently we haven’t really received rainfall in the levels we had last year; we’re still about two inches short of last year,” he said.

Clark is being proactive about leaning trees in his area.

“We have trees in the front yard and the ground is soft. We have several big pines leaning at about 15 degrees. We have a tree man coming to take care of that if it doesn’t come down first.”

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Overton tracks East Texas rainfall and shows the area at 7.95 inches for January through March 2019. There were 3.34 inches in January, 2.17 in February and 2.44 in March.

A soil moisture chart accessible on the National Weather Service’s website shows ground moisture levels in Northeast Texas are among the highest in the state for March 2019.

Property owners concerned about the combination of leaning trees and wet soil can contact a certified arborist or tree service to assess the situation.

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