Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Power of Lightning

Amending the post on August 15 to add this information about lightning from our son Glenn.

Less than 10% of lighting delivers a positive charge to the ground (earth). It usually occurs around the perimeter of the storm miles from where one would be experiencing frequent lightning. It originates from the anvil at much higher altitudes depending on the geometry of the storm. 

 Positive lightning is usually a single stroke and does not branch. It also delivers ~10 times more energy than the common negative high as 1 billion volts and up to 300,000 amps. Not sure who was holding the meter, but anyway. 

 Trees and most everything else struck by positive lightning do not survive. Trees will explode as per your photographic evidence. The physics of the tree coming apart is simply the water content flashing to superheated steam at slightly less than the speed of light. The poor tree expands way too fast and you saw how far.  

Lightning destroyed a tree on our property on Thursday, an ancient oak with Spanish moss hanging from the branches. 

This tree, or one like it. 

This is the view I got when I drove into the pasture.

Long strips of bark were ripped off and thrown several yards away from the tree.

I drove around what was left, taking pics as I went.

Slabs of wood were thrown away from the tree.

Spanish Moss blowing in the wind

Bark was striped away, limbs were blown off and the trunk of the tree splintered. Awesome demonstration of the power of lightning. We are blessed that all that was affected was a lone tree.


  1. Wow! These are some amazing photos of the destructive effect of lightning.

  2. Were you home when this happened?

    It is amazing what the lightening did to that poor old oak.

    Glad you two are ok.


  3. We were home. It is almost a half mile away from our house, so we just heard noise but could not pinpoint where the strike was until the next day.

  4. How sad to lose a magnificent tree like that, but I suppose Mother Nature had her reasons.

  5. So sorry to see the loss of such a wonderful tree. Those magnificent oaks draped in Spanish moss have always held a special place in my heart. I am glad the lightning did not strike next to your house!

  6. Yikes! Here, the fear with lightning is that it will start a fire because everything's so dry - I hope that's not a danger in your area.

  7. Wow! That was quite a strike and fortunately it didn't catch on fire. I am very respectful of lightening after a direct hit on our house.

  8. What a sad sight. We just suffered lots of wind damage from 70mph winds and are still cleaning it up.

    I am sure glad your poor tree was all that was hit.

  9. So powerful. It must be sad to loose such a beautiful tree but I'm glad that you & your buildings are safe and sound!

  10. Sorry about the tree....what a horrible loss........the stick house is okay?


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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