Saturday's freak snowstorm may have seemed like a lightweight compared to your average NYC winter storm, but it caused massive damage to trees throughout the city, particularly in Central Park, where as many as 1,000 trees may have been destroyed by the storm. Why the extensive damage, when Tropical Storm Irene only took out 100 or so? Unfortunately for the trees, many of them still had not shed their leaves, and as a result the heavy, sticky snow accumulated on the branches, and the additional weight was too much for the more fragile trees to bear.
The Central Park Conservancy estimates the cost of the cleanup and restorative work will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. (They're seeking donations.) Workers are currently scrambling to clear the park in time for this weekend's NYC marathon. "Couldn’t have been rain, huh?" asked Neil Calvanese, vice president for operations of the conservancy, according to the Times. Matt Flegenheimer reports:
Mr. Calvanese sighed. “Fall colors were just starting to kick in,” he said. Even the most durable trees struggled to cope. The broad, rough leaves of a London plane tree, Mr. Calvanese said, made it particularly vulnerable to snow accumulation and, consequently, branch fractures.
“It’s a resilient tree,” Mr. Calvanese said, sounding like a coach defending his players after a difficult loss. “They really do hold up well.”
Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe says he's never seen such widespread damage and Central Park Conservancy spokeswoman Dena Libner told the AP that the storm impacted about 400 acres—half of the park—below 86th Street.