The experts call them “zombie trees.” And quite often, homeowners never know that what looks alive is dead inside until a tree comes crashing through the roof.
That was the case on Tuesday in Daytona Beach, Florida, when a massive oak tree fell onto a house while a woman was sleeping, WRBW reported.
The woman rolled away from the worst of the impact seconds before the tree crashed through the house, but the 102-year-old home she lived in is destroyed.
🧟🌳 They may look healthy but under the surface ‘zombie trees’ are dead and can quickly become a threat to your home, especially during #HurricaneSeason. @OrangeCoFL‘s Ted Kozak spoke to @fox35orlando about the warning signs to look for and what you should do if you find one. pic.twitter.com/sgSUfyr0Kr
— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) September 18, 2022
“God is good. Once again, his grace and mercy spared her,” Edgar Riddick said of his 89-year-old grandmother, Katie Speed.
Could she have figured out what was coming? Experts say it is possible, but not always.
“A zombie tree is a tree that has experienced some kind of disturbance that has caused the tree to become unstable or unsafe but still has the appearance of being a totally healthy tree,” arborist Steven Kendall said, according to WHDH.
Ben Wasielewski, a certified arborist, said zombie trees are “all over the place.”
“You just don’t know what tree is a zombie tree, technically, until you look at them,” he said, according to WESH-TV.
“When they just want to give up, they give up. We’ve had a few calls already this year on days like today, sunny, and it just falls, and it will crush a house, crush a car,” Wasielewski said.
Arborist Christopher Forrest said looking down might be a way to spot a zombie tree because cracks in the roots can be a problem, WRBW reported.
Forrest said the tree that crashed down on Speed in Daytona Beach had those cracks and that decay was visible after it fell.
Could you have a ‘Zombie tree’ in your yard?! It’s a tree that looks alive on the outside, but is dead on the inside. This was the scary scene in Daytona Beach yesterday when a tree fell on a home. One thing to look for? Cracks in the roots. @fox35orlando https://t.co/a6OmFPtqbC
— Amy Kaufeldt FOX 35 (@Fox35Amy) September 14, 2022
“As you can see the outside of the tree, the roots, the root color here, you can see the decay coming down this way,” he said
Kendall said the creation of a zombie tree could be weather-related.
“It could be the root zone has been impacted either by a shifting due to high winds or some or some other kind of loading,” he said, according to WHDH.
“Flooding can often times cause root death,” he said, noting that puddles can contribute to causing a tree to turn into a zombie tree.