Autumn snowfall can lead to stress, damage to trees

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – In a typical year, the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts doesn’t see its first accumulating snow until the end of November. But this year, that may happen a lot earlier.

A lot can change in the forecast from now until the chance for snow later this week, and it’s too early to talk about potential amounts. However, autumn snowfall has been known to cause more damage to trees than your typical winter snowfall. Deciduous trees around the valley are still full of leaves this time of year.

Leaf coverage increases the surface area of the tree which holds onto snow. That additional snow on a leafy tree compared to a bare one adds significant weight to the branches. This can break limbs and sometimes take down entire trees. Since temperatures this time of year aren’t as bitterly cold as they are in the winter, the snow can be more wet than dry, so the snow itself is a lot heavier too.

Typically it takes at least a few inches of autumn snowfall to see widespread tree damage, so it’s too early to say if this is what will happen this week. 

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