Exploding Trees? Freezing Temps are Making Things Weird in Texas
Have you ever heard of a tree exploding? Believe it or not, it's a real phenomenon! I'm not talking about the time your cousin got a whole bunch of tannerite targets and turned that pine tree into toothpicks in the blink of - I'm talking about a naturally occurring tree-explosion.
While we haven't experienced the same type of winter weather this year as we did in 2021 (anyone remember Winter Storm Uri?), temperatures dropped enough earlier this month for residents to complain of booms, loud pops, cracks, and "gunfire." What does the temperature have to do with these mysterious and disturbing sounds? Basically, when it gets cold enough - the trees explode, and it's not a quiet process.
Janet Laminack with Denton County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension explained in the interview with KXAS-TV that sometimes when the temps dip below freezing, the trees aren't exactly ready. If you remember from your grade school science class, some trees go "dormant" in the winter.
Part of that process is a reduction of sap that comes gradually from declining temps when we move from fall to winter, but when a cold snap rapidly drops the mercury (especially in the South) from mild to below freezing - the sap can freeze and expand while it is trapped in the tree. With no place to go, the tree explodes - usually late at night. You know that is freaking some people out!
Sometimes this only results in a loud snapping or cracking sound, and sometimes it can actually break a limb completely off of the tree or worse. According to Stuart MacKenzie, a master arborist and expert at Trees.com - some folks report this phenomenon to be as loud as a "shotgun or a cannon."