Winter in the Ouachitas--a severe winter storm signature in Pinus echinata in the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas, USA
Each year severe winter storms (˜ice storms) damage trees throughout the southern USA. Arkansas and Oklahoma have a history of severe winter storms. To extend that history back beyond the reach of written records, a distinctive tree ring pattern or signature is needed. Storm-caused breakage, branch loss and bending stress provide that signature. We found a severe storm signature in shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). We used three published site chronologies, a set of five new site chronologies from a growth-and-yield study conducted by Oklahoma State University and the unpublished Shortleaf Canyon chronology from a master’s thesis at the University of Arkansas. Our method is based on two ring width values for the first and second growing seasons after the storm standardized to the ring widths of the seven growing seasons after the storm. Concordance between storm years predicted by tree ring patterns and actual storm years was tested using Cohen’s Kappa. Concern about confounding of ice storm signals by droughts led us to test concordance between severe storms and drought in July, August and September; results were inconclusive but stand as a warning that these two phenomena cannot be distinguished with certainty in the tree ring record. Damaging severe storms occurred in about 2.8% of all years. Two out of three storm identified as “severe” produced glaze icing.