How To Care For A Tree Struck By Lightning
Lighting is a very frightening element. Aside from being one of the most potent focuses of nature, it can also cause direct damage to humans and properties alike. An estimated electrical charge of 100 million volts is what a lightning strike carries to is pitiful victims; trees are no exemption.
As you may know from basic science, lightning always goes to the highest point in the ground, and this puts trees in open fields or sub-urban areas in a position to be most likely targeted by a lightning strike. Trees that line streets or belong in a yard are the most dangerous and should always be checked after a lightning storm occurs in your area.
What to do if my tree gets struck by lightning
The first thing to keep in mind in the event your tree is struck by lightning is keeping your distance and waiting for the storm to pass. It would help if you never approached a tree that was freshly struck by lightning, as it most likely still has some powerful electrical charge surrounding its body.
Once the storm has passed, and you’re absolutely sure that there are no more residual electrical charges, the first thing to look out for is any hanging branches that might’ve got damage from the incident. They post an immediate risk of falling down any time. Any broken or damaged branches need to be removed to ensure the safety of those around the tree.
The next step is to ensure the extent of the damage. Some trees can be saved, even when struck by lighting. This will depend on several factors, including:
- How badly the tree was hit by lightning
- How old is the tree
- What type of tree and its condition before being struck
- The location of the tree
When making a decision, we wanted to point out that the most crucial factor is the location. If the tree is located near your house or a powerline or other utilities, we recommend getting it removed immediately. Don’t wait for an assessment of your tree to be saved. There are times when a tree struck by lightning doesn’t have any exterior signs of damages, but the lightning already destroyed its insides due to its inherent moisture
- If the tree is still salvageable, you can do the ff:
- Remove any broken or dead branch
- Prune the tree
Is my tree dead after it was struck by lightning?
There is a high chance a tree can no longer be saved when struck by lighting, but there are rare instances where a tree is still salvageable or even untouched. This depends mainly on the species and type of tree.
There is a checklist that we will share to check if a tree is dead or still alive. Some signs to look out for are
- Cracks or splits running down the bark of the tree. Whether long or small, the gap should be checked for damage or how deep it has reached on the bark.
- Holes or missing pisses of the tree’s bark. This might be a sign that the integrity of the tree is already compromised.
- Wilted leaves suddenly appeared on the top of the tree.
- Burn areas. This can occur on the bark or leaves.
How to protect Your Tree from Lightning Damage
Why worry about lightning when there are safeguard methods you can take to ensure your trees are safe.
With advancements in technology, there are new devices and techniques you can use to protect your tree. One great example is a lightning protection system installed on some trees. With this method, heavy-duty metal cables are attached to tree branches and are grounded away from the tree. It acts as a pathway for the lightning to escape the tree and travel to the ground below. The theory is to transmit the actual volt through the tree and into the ground, basically a conductor. The energy of the lightning strike is then released underground to the soil safely.
This type of technique must be done by professionals, as any incorrect methods may cause more harm than good to your tree or property.