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View Poll Results: Do you know or have had any trees that got struck by lightning?
I know a tree that got struck and survived for many years 13 56.52%
I know a tree that got struck and was removed before it died 2 8.70%
I know a tree that got struck but died or got diseased later on 11 47.83%
I don't know of any trees that got struck 3 13.04%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-18-2018, 04:52 AM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
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Cold front came through yesterday and a severe line of storms did as well. My tree got struck by lightning at 3pm. I was wondering if you guys experienced or know of any trees that got struck and survived.


Here's a few pics of my Colorado Spruce tree.








Hard to see but the bark is peeled away from the trunk a few inches from where the opening is





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Old 07-18-2018, 04:55 AM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
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I don't think it was a direct hit because the Top half looks fine and nothing caught on fire. It may have been a branch off the main bolt. I was home at the time 30 feet away and the static and bomb like sound was insane.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:16 AM
 
Location: Northeast Suburbs of PITTSBURGH
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The tree that got struck in my yard survived with some problems at first but now is completely fine. It's a 80' sweet gum tree.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:38 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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I'd have an arborist take a look at it. The bark stripping would concern me.

A tree in the neighbor's yard, a sweet gum, was hit and the bark stripping went from the crown to the base. For full disclosure the tree was in distress anyway and hitting the end of its life span.

It subsequently died completely and the owner didn't remove it. A big wind storm (60+ knot winds) rolled through one night and the tree snapped off about 10 feet off the ground. It went into an adjoining house and wiped much of it out.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:38 AM
 
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
1,660 posts, read 633,040 times
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I've witnessed lightning strikes on trees on three different occasions (one tree hit twice). I felt the sound before I heard it. It is intense. The energy in lightning is amazingly high. It causes the sap to boil and it then explodes, scattering the bark far & wide. The two trees in question were 100 ft + and survived nicely.


We are told to avoid trees during a storm not so much because they "attract" lightning, but because their root zones form a grid of conducting pathways fanning outward effectively putting you in harms way even if you're dozens of feet away from the trunk.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:44 AM
 
Location: NC
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Lightning sometimes comes from the air to the ground and sometimes goes from the ground to the air. It depends on whether the built up charge is more negative or positive in each place. When it comes from the ground, it can go through a tree. Sometimes the water in the tree gets superheated and blows the bark off in a line like on the OP tree. The photo that shows the deep crack is worrisome in that there is now a lot of exposed area for bacteria and fungi and beetles to get deep into the tree. I would say that tree will definitely die or at least fall over in the next couple of years. Sorry.
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Old 07-18-2018, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
I'd have an arborist take a look at it. The bark stripping would concern me.

A tree in the neighbor's yard, a sweet gum, was hit and the bark stripping went from the crown to the base. For full disclosure the tree was in distress anyway and hitting the end of its life span.

It subsequently died completely and the owner didn't remove it. A big wind storm (60+ knot winds) rolled through one night and the tree snapped off about 10 feet off the ground. It went into an adjoining house and wiped much of it out.
THIS^^^^^^.

Just googling "how to save a tree hit by lightening" shows that there may be ways an arborist could increase your tree's chance of survival.

From the little I have read, the sooner treatment begins the better the chance of survival.

If it were me, I would do everything I could to try and save that tree.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:21 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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I agree, have a certified arborist look at it and recommend a course of action. The one next door to us pretty much blew up, there was no way it could be saved. The damage on yours could be repaired by filling the crack to prevent pests/disease from entering, and the wounds around the bark edges can grow and close up. I would be more concerned with the depth of the crack, going that far and being in the center which could weaken it and make it more likely to break apart in a heavy wind. It requires an expert opinion.
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Each lightning strike is unique. An arborist is the way to go, but I doubt you can tell for sure what will happen for at least a year or two. I've seen trees where the tree was effectively girdled by the strike and killed, but most have the single line of damage like yours. What you can't see is how much the root structure has been damaged.

FWIW, both positive and negative polarity strikes have ground leaders. The conductivity in the ground and the conductivity in the cloud make them act like the plates of a giant capacitor, with the weakness that fails in the insulative layer almost always being in the air. Also, even though only one set of leaders typically connect, the "false" ground leaders still carry current and are dangerous, even without the flash/bang.
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Old 07-18-2018, 11:06 AM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
65,023 posts, read 47,349,860 times
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Great posts guys! Thanks. I'll add this info as well..

"When a tree is struck by lightning the liquids inside the trunk turn to gas instantly, leading to an explosion of bark. About half of the trees struck by lightning will die instantly, the other half will live for a number of years, although often weakened and made susceptible for future disease."
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