Record-breaking summer weather leaves lasting impact on tree health

ISSAQUAH, Wash. – Summer is finally over in the Pacific Northwest, and the season broke records.

But what does that mean for the trees in our neighborhoods later this fall when windstorms kick up?

Arborists say the damage can be easy to see, but it’s what’s happening in the ground to the roots that could have lasting impact

And, thanks to the hot, dry summer, Christmas tree farms have also taken a hit.

Glenn Dutro puts the finishing touches on the lawn just in time for a weekend wedding hosted at Trinity Tree Farm.

“Summer’s been rough,” he said.

But his crop of Christmas trees doesn’t look nearly as good as the grass. Dutro says the hot, dry summer did a number on the seedlings – which means this Christmas season may not be so merry.

“Probably about 30 percent died and 70 percent lived ... and that’s pretty much the same story across the entire farm,” he said.

“Look at some of the trees down the street,” said arborist Roy Hisler from the Davey Tree Expert Company. “That’s from drought conditions.”

Hisler says the signs of damage to our trees have already started popping up.

“When trees start losing their leaves a lot earlier than normal than the other trees, that’s a sign that something’s going wrong,” he said.

Our hot, dry summer has damaged some trees and their roots, he said. And when fall and winter storms roll in some trees could have an easier time toppling over.

But there are still ways to save trees that fared better than others during the sizzling summer.

“Fertilize, prune, mulch, properly water if you can do it,” said Hisler.

And, University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass says global warming probably isn’t to blame for our record-breaking wet winter and dry summer.

“At this point, this is probably kind of a random variation of the atmosphere, this has always happened and it always will,” said Mass. “I don’t think we should panic (that) this is due to some global warming impact at this point.”