Tree crown condition in Virginia before and after Hurricane Isabel (September 2003)This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane. As it moved inland, with sustained wind speeds of 37 to 69 miles per hour (59 to 111 km per hour) and gusts up to 91 miles per hour (146 km per hour), the hurricane caused widespread damage throughout Virginia and is a plausible explanation for adverse changes observed in tree crown condition since the hurricane. On average, trees measured before and after the hurricane showed a significant increase in foliage transparency. Increases in foliage transparency were greatest for loblolly pine, sweetgum, and the Coastal Plain region of the State. A significant correlation between tree size and increase in foliage transparency was not observed. This study highlighted the potential importance of foliage transparency as an indicator of tree damage from severe storms.