As a child, I wondered if there is a grain of truth to what people would always warn when there is a storm, “Never hide under a tree”. So I wonder, what is in a tree that makes it attract lightning? Are there special characteristics of a tree that made it susceptible to lightning crashes? Let’s try to uncover this mystery.
As explained and accepted by science, it is now a proven fact that trees protrude from the earth’s surface making them the frequent target of lightning strikes. Electricity that is present in lightning would tend to choose the path of the least resistant. The moisture inside the bark of a tree is also considered a good conductor of electricity compared to air. These factors provide an easier path for the lightning to touch the ground.
In most cases, when lightning hits a tree it could either do a slight damage or death of the tree. However, there are some trees that remain completely unharmed after it is being directly hit by lightning and we can attribute it to sheer luck. Generally, lightning could cause scarring or complete destruction of a tree.
The area just under the bark of each tree contains moisture in the form of sap and water. It is also a proven scientific fact that water is a good conductor of heat compared to wood, and then lightning would most likely travel through underneath the bark of a tree. The explosive strength of the lightning will blast off the bark of the tree because of the moisture it stores and eventually leave a scar along its trunk.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really much to be done to a tree that has substantially damaged bark after a strong lightning. All you can do is to protect the tree from lightning before it strikes by cutting it when there is a storm advisory. After all, you are not only protecting the tree but as well as the people and the surrounding properties from possible trouble.
Therefore, it is now clear that tall trees are not really a safe place to stand and find shelter on in case of a storm. A tree could be the most dangerous place you could ever be in a stormy day so you better watch out or better trim it and don’t wait another day.