Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Tree Lightning Damage: Classic scarring

This tree in Spring Hill Cemetery in Charleston, WV was struck by lightning in July of 1998. The strips of bark pictured at right came from this tree. These two views show the resulting scars of removed bark and wood (Click on each photo to enlarge):

This tree has two major scars caused by some of the return strokes following separate paths down both of the tree's main branches. In one of the scars, you can see the two grooves carved where two return strokes flashed side-by-side. After photographing the tree, I collected all of the strips of bark (visible in the left photo- also pictured here) that had been blown off and took them home. After examining the strips, (some about 3 feet long, 3 inches wide, and perfectly straight), it appeared that the lightning had traveled under the first layer of wood- each 1 inch-thick strip had a 3/4 inch-thick layer of wood underneath the layer of bark.

This tree was struck about 1 to 2 weeks before this picture was taken. 1 week after the above photos were taken, the tree's leaves were withering and beginning to turn brown, evidence that this tree was likely killed by the strike.

These two photos (below) of the same tree were taken on February 19, 1999, almost 7 months after the previous two photos. You can see the bark falling off in large patches.

(Click on each photo for an enlarged version)

Bark strips
Bark Strips

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