CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Now Tropical Storm Ian could cause widespread tree damage in North Carolina. The storm was downgraded from hurricane status to a tropical storm early Thursday morning while making its way across the Florida peninsula.

What You Need To Know

  • Tree damage from a storm can wreak havoc on roads and homes and cause power outages

  • Charlotte arborist Mark Livingston says healthier trees are less likely to cause damage

  • Bugs, fungi and pruning can affect the health of a tree

Mark Livingston has been an arborist for 22 years. He works for Arborguard Tree Specialists and has a keen eye for tree decay. 

“If you see mushrooms around the base of the tree, that means you have tree decay and it can be unstable,” Livingston said.

Related: The latest on Ian

Another issue to look out for is fungi on the truck of the tree. He says to look for spotting.

“It can decay the wood fibers,” Livingston said. “So even if the tree is solid it can snap.”

If you see a tree with a V split, that is also a bad sign ahead of a storm. He says the stems are more likely to split off. One action homeowners can take right now is to prune their trees so that wind can easily blow through the branches. Livingston says to first look for limbs that are crossing.

“So for instance, you have this branch here that is wrapped around and conflicting with the main branches, so just make a cut there and take that out,” Livingston said.

He says to also trim overhanging branches and remove any dead limbs. Bottom line, Livingston says the healthier your trees are, the less damage you can expect.

“Studies show that trees that are maintained have less storm damage and last longer,” Livingston said.

If a tree falls on a home, emergency responders say a person should call 911.

For more tips on treating trees ahead of a storm, visit the N.C. Urban Forest Council.