The reason lightning strikes are (often) so brutal to trees is the resistance they offer to the flow of electricity as it passes through them. Lightning strikes often cause significant damage to the trees they hit. (Photo Credit : Jauerback / Wikimedia Commons) You see, unlike humans, trees are not good conductors of electricity.
Not all trees that have been hit by lightning are doomed. Many can survive, especially if only one side of the tree shows signs of damage. However, all trees will be stressed after lightning damage, so prepare to give your tree a little extra care and attention for a while.
You might be wondering “Can a pine tree survive a lightning strike?”
Among the most common tree species that get hit by lightning are oak, gum, maple, poplar, and pine trees. When a tree gets hit by lightning, there are three possible outcomes: The tree escapes damage; it suffers damage but survives with nothing but a scar; it dies. Most of the trees’ water content is stored just under the bark.
Another way that you can do to save a hit tree is by pruning the broken branches, including any torn wood. A word of caution, however: Do not do extensive pruning until a year has passed after the lightning strike.
What can a lightning strike do to your tree?
Lightning is one of nature’s most powerful forces. Lightning can have devastating effects on people, property and trees. Each strike of lightning can reach more than five miles in length, and produce temperatures greater than 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit and an electrical charge of 100 million volts.
One of the next things we asked ourselves was; what happens to a tree if lightning strikes it?
WHY LIGHTNING STRIKES TREESin an open areanear a body of wateron the edge of a forest or stand of treeson a mountainside or hilltopgrowing close to a buildingwith electrical lights strung from the branches.
When lightning hits a tree, damage can range along a scale from minimally invasive to explosive. As soon as lightning strikes the tree, water in its cells can start to boil causing steam to form. The expanding steam can explode, cracking bark or even stripping it off the tree.
The next thing we wondered was when lightning strikes a tree?
When lightning strikes, the sap in the bark of the tree is subject to extreme temperatures many times hotter than the surface of the Sun due to electrical resistance. The electrical resistance causes the sap to be heated into steam, which can make it explode. That’s why some trees violently explode when struck by lightning.
What to do if your tree is struck by lightning?
A few extra ideas to keep in mind are: with emergency tree services, always prepare your trees for storms, or get all broken branches removed & the tree pruned.
Here is what my research found. a strike of lightning interrupts a tree’s water distribution process, which causes leaves to wilt. If the lightning didn’t make the tree split or leave cracked bark, wilting leaves along major branches are usually the first noticeable symptom of lightning damage. Sometimes the decline of a branch is a gradual process.
What kind of trees are most likely to be hit by lightning?
These species are commonly hit by lightning: Birch and beech rarely get hit and, because of that, suffer little lightning struck tree damage. Lightning damage in trees varies widely.
What happens to a tree after a storm?
Lightning strikes the inside of a tree, targeting a layer underneath the bark that we can’t see. So it’s not uncommon for a tree to look totally normal for days or even weeks and then slowly decline. Or, some trees die shortly after a storm.
What are some myths about lightning?
Myth #2 – Lightning only strikes the tallest objects. Fact: Lightning is indiscriminate and it can find you anywhere. Lightning may hit the ground instead of a tree, cars instead of nearby telephone poles, and parking lots instead of buildings. Myth #3 – If you’re stuck in a thunderstorm, being under a tree is better than no shelter at all.