With another hurricane on the way, Charlotte’s arborist is concerned more of the city's trees will fall. During Hurricane Florence, 549 fell into roads and were cleared by the city’s Tree Canopy Preservation Program.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, Governor Roy Cooper said another hurricane could compound recent damage from Florence.
“We have saturated ground which could exacerbate flash-flooding, and have weakened trees which could cause more trees to fall than normal,” Cooper said.
That’s especially the case for the eastern part of the state, but could also apply to the Charlotte region. Downed trees often block roads and cause power outages.
In Charlotte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said it only takes an inch or two of rain to cause some flooding. The city is expected to get 3 to 5 inches.
Charlotteans can also expect strong winds — sustained winds could be between 10 and 20 miles-per-hour in Charlotte with gusts of up to 30 miles-per-hour.
Tim Porter, the City of Charlotte’s Arborist, said that could be a problem for the city’s tree canopy. Any time winds get to 15 miles-per-hour, trees are at risk.
“There’s always going to be some level of weaker, declining trees that are going to fall in the next storm no matter how close it is behind the previous one,” Porter said.
Even though Hurricane Florence was one of the worst events for downed trees in recent history, that doesn’t mean it cleared all of the weak trees.
In fact, Porter said Florence probably caused trees to decline and weaken more quickly than normal, and those trees could be at risk in Hurricane Michael.
To make sure the streets stay clear, he and the rest of the folks at the Tree Canopy Preservation Program are making preparations and training new people to help take on a possible surge of downed trees. Though Porter doesn’t expect the team will have as much cleanup to do.
“My guess is it’s going to be, if it was a direct hit, it’d be a smaller impact,” Porter said. “But, it’s possible, if the wind and the rain is high enough, it could be as damaging.”
The National Weather Service projects Hurricane Michael will hit Charlotte between Thursday and Friday morning, and will exit the Atlantic Coast near the Virginia-North Carolina border Friday morning.