The most vulnerable trees during storms are those that are dead or decaying and have minimal foliage. It is worth getting these trees checked if you believe you have any of them on your property. Arborists are qualified to identify these trees and determine their level of threat. But why exactly are dead trees more likely to fall in a storm? 

A dead tree is prone to toppling due to the storm’s heavy winds. This is because the lack of moisture and nutrients has caused the wood of such trees to become brittle. Additionally, dead trees often get pest infections, which may also weaken them.

Read below to learn more about why dead trees are more likely to fall in a storm and how to identify a dead tree.

Why are Dead Trees More Likely to Fall

Because a dead tree is weak, there is a greater chance that it may topple down in the event of a storm. Dead trees’ wood can become brittle and vulnerable to breaking when faced with strong winds since it no longer receives moisture and nutrients.

Furthermore, pests find dead trees to be quite alluring. The tree will attract termites, carpenter ants, and other wood-eating pests, who will settle there. They could devour the tree from the inside, weakening it more and increasing the risk of it toppling over.

Injuries may occur when branches suddenly break, or the tree falls due to a storm. You can be liable for the injured person’s medical expenses if you have a dead tree on your property and a passerby is hurt by a limb that falls from it. If the dead tree is close enough to your house, there is also a chance that it might cause harm, particularly during a storm.

This has the potential to be disastrous, and someone inside might get hurt or perhaps die as a result. Even if nobody is hurt during the fall, fixing the damage may still cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When a dead tree falls or a branch from it does, it might also harm electricity lines. This can cause a power outage for you and your area, which could put people in danger.

To avoid this, act as soon as you see a tree beginning to decay, but never try to take down the tree yourself. Companies that remove trees have the best tools for the task and know how to do the work without causing any damage.

How to Tell if a Tree is Dying (Or Dead)

Trees can suffer from a variety of problems, such as disease brought on by drought, crowding or root damage, and pests that devour the foliage or dig into the wood.

Here’s how to determine whether a tree is in trouble:

Scratch the Exterior

One of the tree’s twigs can be scratched with a knife or your fingernail. The tree is alive if it is green and wet under the surface. Test out a couple more twigs if it’s brown and brittle because it might indicate the tree is dying.

Examine the Roots

Look for soft areas, rot, mushrooms, or other fungi at the tree’s base.

Examine the Base of the Tree

Look at the collar, which is where the tree’s trunk and roots converge at the soil’s surface. Be on the lookout for decay indicators like cracked or falling bark.

Check the Trunk for Fractures or Cracks

This can be a sign of the tree’s weak internal structure. A trunk swelling or a region of overgrown bark may also be a symptom of decay.

Look for Any Holes

Inspect the trunk for any large or small holes that wood-eating pests or bark beetles could have made there or anywhere else.

Observe the Leaves

The health of a tree may also be determined by its leaves. Most trees’ leaves change color and drop off in the fall, but if a tree sheds leaves in the spring or summer or if the leaves just fall off without changing color, the tree may be in trouble. Tattered leaves that appear to have been bitten are another warning flag.

Monitor the Tree’s Growth

Does the tree appear to be advancing? It is best to get it checked if not. When nutrients are scarce, trees can cease growing, and the decaying process starts slowly. Any branch that seems to be dead or dying should be avoided, especially if it is near your house or parked automobiles.

Tests to Identify a Dying Tree

Here are two rapid tests you can perform yourself to determine if your tree is dying or just a late bloomer.

The Scratch Test

By gently scraping the bark’s outer surface, you can check whether the second layer, which is beneath the one you removed, is green. This is a promising indicator that your tree may still have a chance of recovery and only needs a little more time to bloom once again.

The Snap Test

The second method is the “snap test,” which involves bending a year-old twig 90 degrees. The tree is most probably already dead if the twig snaps.

Can you save an almost-dead tree?

You may be able to save a half-dead tree sometimes. The tree is probably dying if you notice that certain areas have dried up or that leaves are dropping off when they shouldn’t. However, if your tree has a disease or illness, there are some ways to save it.

Determine whether there is anything that is killing the tree first, such as a significant shift in the environment, like compacted soil, drought, or pest infestation.

Cutting off the dead or dying limbs and directing all resources to the healthy sections of the tree should give it a tremendous boost if the tree is only decaying due to old age.


Dead trees can quickly become a health or property hazard since their wood can snap and fall unexpectedly, causing property damage, injuries, or even death. Fortunately, there are ways to identify a dead tree to prevent this from happening.