Hazard survey underway 1 year after big storm

ABQ storm damage
A major storm blew through the metro in 2013 knocking down trees and causing major damage. Now the city is taking steps to make sure that doesn't happen again.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s been a year since a wild storm ripped through Albuquerque, leaving a big path of destruction. In just a few hours, it took out trees, damaged parks and left roads under water. Since then, the city has made changes to minimize the impact the next time a storm like that roars through.

Kit Carson is one of the parks on the city’s radar. It has trees that can really hurt someone if they topple. It’s in a high-traffic area right near the zoo, where this time last year, the weather got pretty bad.

Exactly one year ago, tornado-like winds ripped through Albuquerque, packing enough punch to take down hundreds of aging trees.

“In a storm of that magnitude, there will be tree damage,” explained Joran Viers, Albuquerque’s City Forester.

That storm carried winds of up to 80 miles per hour and lots of rain. Since then, the city hired Viers.

“I’m trying to just do a real down and dirty survey,” said Viers. He’s going park by park assessing hazard spots where weakened trees may pose a threat.

“We’re making good progress, it’s a big ball of wax that I’m trying to get my hands around,” said Viers.

There’s about 300 parks in Albuquerque. With a crew of 10, it’s taken some time to clean up, and work on preventing damage.

For instance, a 5,000 pound tree falling on something or, someone. “That just needs to be pruned out, taken back to sound wood so that it’s not as likely to fall apart,” said Viers, pointing to an old cottonwood at Montgomery Park.

Viers said he has to prioritize, so trees near buildings or homes and high-traffic areas will get attention first.

“There’s a number of parks where we have dead trees that we’re not going to get to right away because they’re stable, they’re dead, they’re ugly, and they do need to come down, but they’re stable,” explained Viers who is asking concerned residents for patience.

It’s quiet now, but one thing to learn from last year’s torrential downpour; you can’t always predict what goes up or what will come down.

“We just hope for the best and we go in and we clean up,” Viers chuckled.

A lot of the trees that toppled in last year’s storm were old, but the city forester said that storm also showed that even some healthy trees couldn’t hold up.

Viers said he expects to have his hazard survey of the city’s trees completed in the next few weeks.

Last July, the metro got nearly three inches of rain. Nearly half of that came in just one storm. This month, we’re on track for above average rainfall, but it’s been more steady.

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