The U.S. National Arboretum suffered major damage as Hurricane Isabel roared into the Washington, D.C. area on Thursday afternoon and evening, September 18, 2003. Dozens of mature trees were totally destroyed and a larger number badly damaged. What started as light rain in the early afternoon soon turned to driving rains and strong winds later in the day. The intensity of the storm grew, and by evening the heavy rain and wind gusts of 40 to 60 miles per hour continued to belt the arboretum. The east and southeast facing slopes of the arboretum were hardest hit. Large mature oak, tulip poplar, and pine trees either broke near their bases or were uprooted as the heavy, wet foliage in the trees’ canopies and rain-soaked ground overwhelmed the roots’ ability to anchor the trees. Many trees fell under these conditions when the stronger wind gusts hit them. [See the gallery of some images below]. Fallen trees blocked roads and paths and numerous broken branches were left dangerously hanging along the paths.
Due to the efforts of our staff and volunteers, we were able to open most of the grounds of the Arboretum as of Monday, September 22. Some parts of the grounds, however, are closed and will remain closed until we can eliminate unsafe conditions.
We ask that you obey all signs, barricades, and flagging tape prohibiting entry into areas that we have closed. While some of these areas may seem safe to enter, we have determined that hazards exist. We also ask that you limit your travel to paths and roadways. Dangerous conditions may exist nearby. Please stay well away from downed trees. Massive branches may break unpredictably or the weight of the tree could shift suddenly, injuring those who venture too close.
The extensive Azalea Collections with about 12,000 azaleas, and the Asian Collections which are concentrated along the slopes of the Anacostia River were hardest hit. At this time, absolutely no entry is allowed into the Azalea Collection. Due to the unprecedented demand for arborist services in the area, we may not be able to resolve all tree-related safety issues in the Azalea Collection until mid-winter. We hope to have the entire grounds open as soon as we possibly can and appreciate your cooperation as we do our best to recover quickly from Hurricane Isabel.
|Downed trees along Azalea path||More downed trees along Azalea path|
|Downed oak tree||Damaged tree|
|Downed oak tree||More downed trees|
|Uprooted Tulip Poplar||Another uprooted tree|
|Uprooted pine tree||Major tree damage|
Last Updated November 3, 2003 3:00 PM
URL = http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/AnswerGallery/Isabel.html