First off, topping is a huge NO-NO and is a topic for another day. If you need information on this topic please do not hesitate to call our office and ask for anti-topping literature.
Contrary to topping, thinning is a recommended tree care practice and can be part of a solid tree care program. The New Jersey Board of Tree Experts outlines it like this:
Crown Thinning: Crown thinning shall include crown cleaning as well as selective removal of branches to increase air movement and light penetration into the crown of the tree. Crown thinning should be used to reduce the wind-sail effect of foliar clumps in the crown, relieve the weight of heavy limbs, allow for increased light penetration for understory trees and shurbs and maintain interior crown foliage that will improve branch taper and strength. At least one half of the foliage should remain on branches that are in the lower two-thirds of the tree. Similarly, when thinning lateral branches, the same distribution should be followed and inner lateral branches should be well spaced along the main limb to distribute stress more uniformly.
As you can see, crown thinning by a trained professional can help protect your trees from storm damage.
Paul D. Biester