Long heatwave made 200-year-old tree explode as expert warns no tree is safe

The shock explosion of a 200-year-old tree caused by a heatwave has prompted an expert to warn that 'no tree is safe' from changing weather conditions. 

Despite appearing perfectly healthy prior to the rise in temperatures, an oak tree, believed to have been around two centuries old, suddenly exploded sending debris flying everywhere. 

The city of Portland, Oregon is experiencing its longest warm spell on record, with temperatures consistently above 35C, creating disruption in a number of areas with many unaware that such a phenomenon existed.

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The exploding tree added to the problems in the neighbourhood of Eastmoreland this week when one of its large branches, thought to have weighed around 13,600kg (2,140st), hit power lines, causing a limited amount of property damage.

Explaining how a build-up of gases inside the tree from the heat caused the violent reaction, arborist Michael Jolliff told local television station FOX 12 : "That (heat) tends to cause thermal changes inside the tree in the wood tissues and also the build-up of gases inside the tree.

"That can be explosive and sudden."

He added that the "dynamic" reactions are more likely to happen in older, heavier trees and especially oaks, as the pressure increases more rapidly.

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Mr Jolliff also warned that continued warmth — including future episodes brought on by global warming — would make these rare explosions increasingly likely, stating: "We’re going to continue to see it because of the way the heat is trending.

"There isn’t any real precursor or warnings and that’s the problem.

"No tree is perfectly safe."

The tree will now need be removed after succumbing to the heat, ending 200 years of survival that saw it survive many ice storms in one of the United States' most northerly regions.

Tree explosions are more commonly caused by extreme cold, with a number of incidences recorded during an abnormally frosty winter in Texas earlier this year.


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