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OBSERVATION: Lightning Tree


After a great overnight storm, i drove the parkway the next day and stopped around Mills River Overlook on a whim and noticed this great Spanish Oak on the margin of the wood that had been struck by lightning.

Lightning strikes at some 250,000 amps and uses whatever it hits as a conductor to the ground. That's what it had done to this tree and it had split the tree's bark from tip to ground in a rough spiral down the tree.

Lightning is one of the natural fire-starters for forests, but i guess it had been too moist and too early in the season and not dry enough to ignite anything.

I can only imagine that the tree was in shock. The pattern of chlorophyll in its leaves were reduced down to near the main feeders (see below) and the rest of the leaves were already brittle and dead tissue.

The area of influence around the ground was about a 15 foot radius from the trees base. Some smaller trees had 1/2 dead leaves on one side and the other part of the tree, farther away from the struck tree, was fine. Just an odd pattern.



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