This is what can happen to a tree given some winter conditions and neglect. This tree had never been pruned and had an extremely full canopy. This storm also hit when our area's trees hadn't dropped their leaves yet so this tree was even heavier than it would have been post fall. However, it is very important that your larger trees remain pruned and ready for any strong storms no matter what time of year.
Light pruning and removal of dead branches can be done anytime of year but heavy pruning is best during dormancy. Pruning in the winter can result in a huge growth spurt during spring. If this is your wish, then prune this winter. Pruning is also easiest in the winter months because the foliage is gone, making it easier to see the tree's shape. It is usually best to wait until the worst of winter has past to do the major pruning, but here in South Carolina winter is usually pretty mild so just about anytime will do. You'll notice that some trees will "bleed" when the sap begins to flow but don't worry, this isn't harmful to the tree. When blooming begins, the sap bleeding will cease.
If you want to prune smaller trees and shrubs yourself, there are many places to get how-to guides online that will walk you through it. However, for the larger trees, it's best that you call a professional tree service company. Winter months bring discounts on tree services as they are the slower months in the industry. If you're thinking of hiring a tree service company in the midlands, call Southeastern Tree Removal. We love what we do and it shows!