• Snow damage occurs when heavy snowfall accumulates on tree branches.
  • Damage increases when freezing rain and high winds are combined with snowfall accumulations.
  • Damage consists of branch and stem bending and breakage, bole splitting and uprooting.
  • The risk of damage increases in late spring and early fall when leaves are present and snowfalls tend to be wetter and heavier.
  • All tree species of any age and size are susceptible to snow damage.

Damage characteristics

  • In young, dense conifer or hardwood stands, damage is characterized by bent over trees, with some stem breakage occurring, but rarely uprooting since young trees are more flexible.
  • In mature conifer stands, damage is usually broken stems, broken branches or uprooting, since the trees are more rigid; some bending in tops can occur if snow was not heavy enough to break the stem.
  • In mature hardwoods, snow accumulation can cause larger branches to break off or the entire crown.
  • Snow damage is typically significant as it permanently deforms or damages the tree.

Snow damage on red pine plantation

Snow damage in northwest Ontario

Control measures

Many insects and diseases will flourish in snow and ice damaged trees, and can spread to adjacent forested areas. Broken tops, dead and dry material, are high risk fuel sources and can pose serious forest fire risk. Salvage harvests can be effective tools in managing snow damaged stands and for reducing the risk of further damage caused by forest fire, insects, or diseases.