BERLIN – Trees are feeling the effects of the drought conditions and pose a potential threat to electrical infrastructure.
As the State’s leading utility and energy company, Eversource is addressing this issue in collaboration with a team of forestry partners from the University of Connecticut.
“Current circumstances can result in the loss of trees that are already under stress for other reasons, such as insect infestations, diseases, overcrowding, past storm damage and location factors like already very dry sites,” UConn Associate Extension Professor of Forestry Thomas Worthley explained. “Drought can also exacerbate some of these stresses. Some trees may enter dormancy earlier, exhibiting early foliage color change. In general, most trees will produce smaller growth rings during drought conditions, thus sequestering less carbon from the atmosphere than in normal years. Some loss of limbs or branches might also be expected, presenting potential hazard situations.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor’s Sept. 1 report showed that the state continues to experience severe drought conditions. Experts predict drought conditions will continue through November.
“It has been a hot, dry summer and our team of arborists is seeing telltale signs of stress like weakened branches and early fall color,” Eversource CT’s Vegetation Management Manager Sean Redding pointed out. “We’ve seen the devastation storms can cause and trees already in poor health are especially vulnerable to the effects of drought, raising even greater concern of them coming down in a storm, possibly taking down electric lines with them and causing power outages.”
The energy company performs routine maintenance work to clear low-hanging branches and vegetation that could interfere with electrical wires. However, officials encourage property owners to take responsibility for caring for their own trees as well, to prevent hazardous situations.
“Addressing the state of our trees is critically important to ensuring safe, reliable electric service for our customers, and we’re committed to collaboration with our communities and property owners as the changing climate drives more extreme drought conditions that weaken trees and threaten reliability,” Redding said.
Trees experiencing signs of stress may show thinning at the crown, loss of foliage, early color changes, and mushrooms near the base. People are urged to call a certified arborist to assess their tree’s situation if it is showing any of these signs.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.