AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the biggest problems Central Texans are facing during this storm is trees breaking under the pressure of all the ice. We spoke to several tree removal services, and many of them started getting calls early Thursday morning well through the evening because of downed trees.  

Experts with Good Morning Tree Service said broken branches are one of the most obvious signs of damage but said you should also look at your tree trunks for cracks or splits, which could indicate an even bigger problem. 

Just before 4 a.m. Thursday, Janna Dornak heard a bizarre noise in her backyard. 

“I did hear a sound, but I didn’t expect it to be like this,” Dornak said. 

She’s referring to a huge tree that toppled over, part of it landing in her neighbor’s lawn. 

Fallen trees in Round Rock (Courtesy Janna in Round Rock)

“The tree had broke through the fence, and I was worried about it on my roof, and that’s my bedroom window right there,” Dornak explained. 

She said the tree withstood last year’s winter storm but not the ice on Thursday. She has no idea how much the damage will cost.  

It’s a problem several homeowners across Central Texas are grappling with. Erin Sewell in southwest Austin is one of them.  

Fallen trees in Round Rock (Courtesy Janna in Round Rock)

“At five this morning, my husband and I shot up out of the bed,” Sewell explained. “We heard this loud popping crackling noise.”  

She realized a large tree had fallen through the fence. She noticed her trees hanging slightly lower after last winter’s storm but did not expect a downed tree after Thursday’s ice event. 

“[I was] a little afraid, because there’s one right beside it that could go in the house, and my first thought was, ‘my kids bedrooms are right there,’” Sewell said. 

Naomi Rotramel, the Austin city arborist, said many trees were already brittle because of last year’s winter storm. 

“Some trees were stressed. They may have had structural defects in the first place, but when we get an ice load on trees, especially in Central Texas, these trees aren’t completely adapted to it,” Rotramel said. 

Rotramel said the best thing to do is find a qualified arborists to evaluate your trees if you feel like there’s an issue. She recommends

Experts with Good Morning Tree Service said there are a few things you can do for your trees in an ice storm:  

  • Wrap the trunk and/or cover new trees with a blanket or a frost cover to help them survive.
  • Use a 2 x 4 to prop up tree branches that are weighed down with ice or snow.
  • Give an arborist a call.
  • Having an outside propane heater or use fan with a heater blowing towards tree (not in or near water).
  • If a fallen branch is blocking a driveway or road, call 311.
  • If you find a cracked branch on a utility line, call Austin Energy at (512) 494-9400.
  • Take a look at all trees on your property, if there is damage as in a broken or hanging branch, stay clear of it; if you have a orange cone, stick that underneath it.
  • If you feel like you have a tree splitting apart, you can grab a belt or straps and try to tie them together to help it short term.
  • If there is a tree leaning, you can put a 2 x 4 board underneath of it and give it some support that way, and clear the path under it in case it falls.
  • If you’re looking at the trunk of the tree, and you notice a lighter part, more fresh wood, that is probably a split or break.