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Trees are integral to Palo Alto’s landscape, offering beauty, shade, and environmental benefits. But they can also pose challenges, especially when emergencies arise.

Understanding our city’s most common tree emergencies is crucial for timely and effective response.

The top five tree emergencies in Palo Alto provide residents with the essential knowledge to safeguard their property and our urban greenery.

1. Fallen Trees and Limbs

One of the most frequent tree emergencies in Palo Alto is the falling of trees and limbs. This often happens during strong winds and stormy conditions.

Fallen trees can block roads, damage property, and cause power outages. For instance, there have been cases where thousands of Palo Alto Utilities customers lost power due to fallen trees.

To prevent such hazards, it’s important to regularly check the health and stability of trees, especially those near buildings or power lines.

2. Tree Diseases

Tree diseases are another common emergency. Diseases can weaken trees, making them more likely to fall or lose limbs. Some diseases also spread quickly to other trees, causing widespread problems.

Residents should watch for signs of disease, like unusual leaf discoloration, dying branches, or visible fungi. Early detection and treatment by a certified arborist can often save a diseased tree and protect others nearby.

3. Pests and Infestations

Pests, such as beetles or caterpillars, can infest trees, leading to severe damage or even death of the tree. Infestations can weaken the structural integrity of a tree, making it a hazard.

If you notice signs of pest infestation, like holes in the bark, sawdust-like debris, or large numbers of insects on or around a tree, it’s important to contact a tree care professional.

4. Damage from Storms

Storms, especially those with high winds or heavy rains, can cause significant damage to trees. They can break branches, uproot trees, or leave them leaning dangerously.

After a storm, it’s crucial to inspect trees for damage. Any tree that’s leaning has large broken branches or is uprooted, which poses a potential risk and needs immediate attention.

5. Trees Interfering with Power Lines

Trees that grow too close to power lines can cause emergencies. Not only do they pose a risk of power outages, but they can also be a serious safety hazard. If a tree is touching or very close to a power line, it’s vital not to try to handle it yourself.

Instead, contact Palo Alto Utilities or a qualified tree care professional. Regular pruning and maintenance can prevent trees from becoming a problem for power lines.


In summary, addressing Palo Alto’s common tree emergencies—fallen trees and limbs, diseases, pests, storm damage, and interference with power lines—requires proactive care and awareness of emergency contacts.

Regular tree health checks, prompt action on disease or pest signs, and safe maintenance around power lines can prevent many emergencies.

Residents should dial 911 for life-threatening situations like a tree blocking a road or damaging a house.

This combined approach of prevention and preparedness is key to safeguarding our community and its trees.