Hurricane and Tropical Weather Prepardness Tips

Hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30. It is important to prepare ahead of any tropical weather.

What to Do
Before the storm

With every storm, severe damage may be seen in the community and some trees may survive with only minor change. There are ways to reduce damage during any storm by following Proper Pruning Before Hurricane Season.

Homeowners and property owners can take preventive measures prior to a storm in order to assist their trees in growing stronger and becoming more resistant to damage.
[Landscape Hurricane Preparedness]
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, there are 5 suggestions for pruning a tree that will promote growth of strong branches:

  • Don't cut branches back to stubs. Long, natural limbs on a tree are strong and can withstand storm-like conditions. If a branch needs to be removed, cut it back to the main branch or to the tree's trunk.
  • Encourage a strong branch / trunk size relationship. Ideally, lateral branches should be no more than ½ to ¼ the diameter of the trunk.
  • Encourage good branch angles. For most deciduous trees, narrow angles between 2 branches signal a point of future weakness. A good rule of thumb for many deciduous trees is to keep the angles at 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock.
  • Maintain a stable center of gravity. The center of gravity for a tree should be over the trunk. Remove branches on the leaning side and encourage branch growth on the opposite side.
  • Remove rubbing branches, suckers, water sprouts and temporary branches.
  • Ensure disaster supply kit is stocked
  • Fuel vehicle
  • Inform family and friends of plan, especially if sheltering in a different location than residence
  • Remove or secure outside items such as potted plants, grills and lawn furniture

During the storm

  • Stay indoors and do not travel during the storm
  • If winds become strong, stay away from doors and windows – take refuge in an interior room, closet or hallway
  • Do NOT use candles, which can increase fire risk
  • Understand that emergency services might not be able to respond during the storm

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Hurricane Landscaping

Forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center are predicting a near-normal to above-normal hurricane season this year.

[A graphical image of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook showing a prediction of 10-16 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, 1-4 major hurricanes]

Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, with August and September being the most active months.

The 2017 season produced 17 named storms of which 10 became hurricanes including six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) – two of those became the first major hurricanes to hit the continental U.S. in 12 years.

Your family's safety is most important during a hurricane. One of the things you can do to help keep your family and home safe is to prepare your landscape properly. Here are some tips to help make sure your landscape is on its way to being hurricane-proof:

  • Right Tree, Right Place – Choose varieties of trees that are well-suited for your landscape. Plant larger trees away from your home, power lines, and other structures. This reduces the risk of branches—or of trees themselves—falling on your home or knocking down power lines.

  • Choose Wind-Resistant Species – Some trees are more wind-resistant than others, so do your homework. Suggested wind-resistant varieties include sabal palms and smaller palm varieties such as manila and pygmy date. Gumbo limbo, live oak, and sea grape also have high survival rates after hurricanes.

"Selecting Tropical and Subtropical Tree Species for Wind Resistance" (PDF) -- from the UF/IFAS Urban Forest Hurricane Recovery Program

  • Regular Pruning and Maintenance – Assess trees for branches that are dying, damaged, or weakly connected to the trunk. Regular pruning has several benefits: it promotes healthy growth; removes dead, dying, or diseased limbs; and can reshape the tree to be more resistant to wind damage. Thinning or reducing the crown of the tree helps to reduce trunk movement during a hurricane (learn more). If branches are large or high in the tree, it's best to hire a professional.

  • Planting in Groups or Masses – Planting groups of mixed trees together can greatly enhance wind resistance. The trees buffer each other as well as your property and other landscape plants.

After a hurricane, remember that your landscape needs to be maintained properly.

Damaged trees need to be removed or restored by a professional.

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Trees That Can Withstand Hurricanes

[Sand live oak]

Sand live oak (Quercus geminata) is very resistant to wind damage. ©Edward Gilman, UF/IFAS.

When choosing a new tree for your Florida landscape, or deciding whether to remove a tree, take hurricanes into consideration.

One of the best things you can do in your landscape is to plant trees that can withstand hurricane-force winds.

Research conducted by University of Florida scientists showed that sand live oaks are the most resistant to wind damage. Other good choices include the Southern magnolia, live oak, crapemyrtle, bald cypress, and sabal palm. These trees are less likely to lose limbs or blow over during hurricanes.

Some of the trees with the least wind resistance were sand pine, Chinese elm, water oak, and laurel oak.

Remember that proper planting and care are just as important as tree selection. By making smart choices when you choose and plant new trees, you'll avoid costly damage later.


Florida Forest Trees: Sand Live Oak
Florida Plant ID: Sabal Palmetto
Landscape Plants: Hurricane-resistant Trees
Landscape Plants: Quercus geminata, Sand Live Oak
Trees and Hurricanes

UF/IFAS Publications

How to Minimize Wind Damage in the South Florida Landscape
Native Wind Resistant Trees for Mitigation in Escambia County, Florida (PDF)
Quercus geminata, Sand Live Oak
Selecting Southeastern Coastal Plain Tree Species for Wind Resistance (PDF)
Selecting Tropical and Subtropical Trees Species for Wind Resistance (PDF)

Also on Gardening Solutions

Bald Cypress
Live Oaks
Southern Magnolia

More About Hurricanes on Gardening Solutions

Cleaning Up After A Hurricane
Hurricane Landscaping
Preparing Trees for Hurricanes
Restoring Trees After a Storm