SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento trees are having trouble handling the heat. Triple-digit temperatures have caused many tree limbs to snap in a phenomenon the experts call summer branch failure.

“Sometimes the tree will catastrophically break itself, and it requires removal,” said Chad Dykstra, an arborist, and CEO of Foothill Tree Service.

It’s a problem that can happen quickly without any warning. And tree removal experts are still trying to figure it out.

“I heard nothing except this morning, I walked out and there it is,” said Michelle Micciche, who lives in the Pocket area.

She didn’t see a twig or a small branch but a massive tree limb now covering her front lawn.

“I called the arborist, and three of them were too busy to come out today because they said almost all day long, they’re busy with tree limbs falling,” Micciche said.

She’d never heard of summer branch failure. It happens when temperatures fluctuate in a short period, and pressure builds in a tree limb, causing it to snap instantly.

“It typically happens when it’s really hot and then it drops down cool or when we see cool temperatures and they rise rapidly,” Dykstra said.

Dykstra says it’s common in our kind of climate and he’s had 40 service calls in just the last few days.

“Everybody walked by this morning and told me how healthy it looked, so I’m hoping I can keep it,” Micciche told CBS13.

But healthy or not, Dykstra says summer branch failure can happen to any tree, and there’s typically no warning. Most often, he sees it with oak, sycamore and pear trees.

While the experts are still figuring out how to predict it, there are steps you can take to give your tree the best defense.

  • Inspect your tree for defects and decay
  • Prune your tree regularly
  • Consult an arborist if you’re concerned about heavy limbs near your home

Micciche says she plans to have her tree trimmed and assessed, as soon as the professionals can make to her home.

“At least I still have the tree,” she said. “The whole tree didn’t fall yet!”

Branch failure is more common after a wet winter where trees grow rapidly. So arborists will see it in June, and again in September and October.

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