Hurricane Isabel (September 2003) was the largest, most damaging hurricane to hit Virginia in at least 70 years. Permanent plots established in a maturing upland hardwood forest in 2002 were resampled in 2004 to assess hurricane damage. Tree loss among stems ≥10 cm diameter breast high (dbh) varied from none in 7 of the 20 plots to 50% of stems and 83% of canopy cover in a plot hit by a local microburst. Loss was greater on ridges and other higher elevation sites, and downwind of expanses of water. Loss was significantly higher in trees ≥60 cm dbh. Loss in Quercus velutina (46.6%) was significantly higher, and in Fagus grandifolia (7.7%) and Acer rubrum (7.4%) loss was significantly lower than the overall loss rate (16.9%). The latter two species occurred mostly in the lower canopy and understory, where tree loss was generally lower. Among stems ≥2.5 cm dbh but <10 cm dbh, all loss was secondary damage from falling larger trees, but was significantly higher in Oxydendrum arboreum (36.4%) and significantly lower in Acer rubrum (3.6%) than the overall loss rate for this size class (11.0%). Ilex opaca had a low loss rate in both larger and smaller size classes, but in both classes, difference from the overall rate was just short of the p < 0.05 level.
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Vol. 79 • No. 1