"There is a danger:" Bitter cold takes toll on trees; dozens in Oak Creek must come down

OAK CREEK (WITI) -- The FOX6 Weather Experts say if the month of February ended on this Monday, February 23rd, it would be the sixth coldest February on record for Milwaukee! And another Monday brought another Wind Chill Advisory issued by the National Weather Service, effective through late Monday morning. The freezing temperatures we're seeing are taking a toll on all of us -- and that includes arborists, who are finding big problems with trees as winter drags on.

Oak Creek Forester Rebecca Lane was armed with paint as she took a walk on Monday.

"We're marking trees in the range of 15-25 in diameter," Lane said.

They're marking the trees because many of those that line Lenox Avenue in Oak Creek are cracking.

"This can be dangerous," Lane said.

So the cracking trees have to go.

"It`s hard to lose a large tree because it`s hard to grow a large tree," Lane said.

Lanes says the bitterly cold temperatures we've seen have left their mark on trees -- in the shape of vertical cracks. They're called "frost cracks," and no two are alike. Some trees bear short cracks, while others are scarred all the way down. Lane found one tree with a crack so deep you could see through it!

"There is a danger of this tree splitting right at the open crack," Lane said.

Certain trees tend to be more prone to cracking. Most commony, this frost cracking is seen in sycamore trees. In Oak Creek, 25 of the 1,000 Linden trees are slated to come down.

Frost cracks are often seen on trees that are out in the open, where the sun shines directly on the bark.

"The sun heats up the bark during the day and the cold temperatures at night cause it to burst and this is the case with frost cracks that are very deep and also ones that are shallow or superficial," Lane said.

The Oak Creek Forestry Department will begin removing these affected trees fairly soon. City officials will use the branches for mulch and any solid stumps for lumber. Anything that can't be used for lumber will be cut up and made available to residents for firewood.

CLICK HERE for more information or to sign up for firewood in Oak Creek.