Arborists say wet winter, dry summer could be to blame after tree branch falls on woman

A woman was hurt by a falling tree branch at Idylwood Beach Park in Redmond Thursday. Several arborists say the wet winter and dray summer we're having could be to blame for the tree limb's failure. (Photo: KOMO News)

REDMOND, Wash. - A woman was hurt by a falling tree branch at Idylwood Beach Park in Redmond Thursday.

Several arborists are offering their take on what happened - and if it could happen again.

Some said the really wet winter combined with the recent dry streak could be key factors in the tree's failure.

Master Arborist Steve Lambert pointed out where a 20-foot limb broke off and toppled onto a woman below.

“You can see a wound where it had snapped off,” said Lambert.

It happened Thursday afternoon at Idylwood Beach Park along Lake Sammamish while lots of families were around. Fortunately no one else was hurt.

On Friday, City of Redmond arborists said the tree was in excellent health. And, they don't see any other hazards with the tree.

KOMO News brought out two independent arborists -- Lambert and certified arborist Ron Paquette.

Both said cottonwood trees are known to have branches break off from time to time on warm summer days.

But, they say the 50 plus days without rain following a very wet winter could have contributed to the tree’s failure.

“It's one stress factor compounding another one,” said Lambert.

Arborist Ron Paquette said he's had a number of calls about tree failures.

“Three trees yesterday, much, much larger that this had branches, where 18-inch branches about that big around around. And they failed,” said Paquette.

And while the arborists said they are still gathering answers to those tree limbs falling, there's something to keep in mind.

“Trees like a lot of water and so when they're not get that much water, they go into survival mode,” said Lambert.

Lambert said that with all these extreme weather conditions, there may be a pattern that's developing of tree failures.

Arborists tell us that besides cottonwood trees, oak trees and eucalyptus trees are prone to losing their branches every so often in what's referred to as "sudden limb drop."

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