City crews pick up where windstorm left off

City crews have been busy scoping, sawing, pruning, hauling, chipping and raking after Mother Nature finished whipping up a windstorm that some trees couldn’t stand up to earlier this week.

“We’ve been going steady since Monday afternoon,” said Kyle Pressick, Forestry Pruning Leader. “We’re hoping to get caught up as quickly as we can this week.”

Strong wind gusts did damage to trees across the city on Monday. Like this 40-ish-year-old poplar in a naturalized area on Laurier Drive in the city’s west end that suffered a severe tear to a low limb.


By Tuesday, City forestry teams and arborists had been to the site with chippers, saws and other tools to even out the tear, making a smooth surface so that water would have less of a path into the tree’s inner structure. And to ensure the site was safe.


And then to cut into smaller chunks the damaged pieces for pick up.


On Wednesday, the chipping unit revved to life.


From there the ground was raked and the chips trucked to City-owned sites where they’re used, if they don’t have disease, in tree planting sites and mulch beds

Strong winds, strong response

The fate of the poplar on Laurier Drive is the story of one tree in the 380,000 trees in what the City calls its urban canopy. It’s lovely to have trees nearby. It’s impossible to imagine a city without trees. But the weather doesn’t always care.

Storms and strong winds can break large branches and take down mature trees. In heavy winds, large mature trees can even act like a lever against themselves. The taller the tree, the more force along its trunk and root system.

The City quickly responds to downed trees to protect people, property and the environment. The first step is always to conduct a field level hazard assessment to figure out how much work has to be done and how tricky it might be.

The goal is to keep people enjoying trees and green space safely.

City crews feed damaged branches into chipper

Dead trees fall first, right? Not so fast

Trees most commonly fail in winds stronger than 50km/h. Depending on the condition of the tree itself, as well as site conditions (high water saturation, the extent of root structure) damage can happen at lower wind speeds, too.

“It’s tricky, and there are more factors than just the age of a tree and speed of the wind,” said Pressick.

A common misconception is that dead trees and limbs will fail in high winds. But leafless trees are also, in a way, protected from the wind. It’s like a sailboat, said Pressick. No sail means no movement. In a similar way, trees without wind-catching leaves mean branches don’t move as much, reducing the chances of a wind-caused break.

There were lots of leaves on that Laurier Drive poplar, after all.

Use the app

Please use the 311 app to report downed trees on public property. If there is an immediate safety concern, call 311. The City will send a forester to inspect the tree and remove branches if they are damaged.

Find more information about trees and storms

Remember to give City teams room to work safely and efficiently. 

What to do on private property

The first step is to stay safe. Call an arborist or contact the City for a tree assessment. You can cut down the tree yourself provided it is on your private property, but always use proper protective equipment including safety glasses and solid-toed boots. 

Important info

Storing or improperly disposing of trees and wood can spread disease and infestations. Please dispose of tree material by taking it to an Eco Station. Smaller branches can be tied in bunches no more than four feet long and 20 kg in weight, and left for curbside pickup.

 Trees are part of the elemental beauty here

Editor’s Note: the pic at the top of the post shows City of Edmonton crews cleaning up on Wednesday, July 15, after wind damaged a 40-year-old poplar near 145 Street and Laurier Drive.