Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Tree Lightning Damage: Exploded

This tree in Coonskin Park in Charleston, WV is a classic example of the more extreme damage that lightning can inflict. The lightning channel here traveled through the center of the tree, severely fragmenting one side of the trunk and leaving only a semi-circle shaped cross-section of the tree standing. Large splinters of wood from this tree were observed more than 20 feet away in the forest, ranging in size from a few inches to 7 feet long. It was no doubt a powerful strike that victimized this tree.

Judging by the non-decayed appearance of the splintered wood debris, it appears that this may have been a fresh strike when these photos were taken in August 2000, possibly occurring as recently as 3 months prior.

This tree was likely already dead before the strike, evidenced by fungus growth on the trunk along with the lack of branches. Dead or dying trees have moist, decaying cores that provide better conductive paths for lightning channels than under the bark layer.

(Click on each photo to enlarge)

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