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How Trees React to Lightning and Wind During Thunderstorms

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It is no shock that Wisconsin weather is extremely unpredictable. Due to its unpredictable weather, we must always be on alert for flying cows, massive snowstorms, and thunderstorm destruction to our forestry, or more simply trees.

Trees may be sturdy, adaptive, and resilient, but they are not indestructible. Continually checking on your trees and taking preemptive measures before and after storms is one way to ensure your trees possibility of being indestructible.

Trees Reaction to Lightning

It is no shock that lightning and trees do not go well together. When lightning strikes a tree, the water sustained in the cells are aroused to a boiling point. Like when you choose to make spaghetti for dinner and boil the water. Once the water boils in the tree, steam is produced, causing an explosion like force that knocks the bark off the tree.

The most common visual sign is a continual groove of bark spanning the length of the trunk, or section of the tree hit. However, the grooves do not have to run the length of the tree. Lightning flashes in multiple directions, and one of the side flashes could have caught your tree. This is indicated with a lack of a continual groove because the lightning struck, traveled down the trunk, and took it’s charge to a nearby object providing little electrical resistance.

As stated before, when lightning directly strikes a tree trunk, the entire tree has the chance of breaking apart. However, if a single groove is shown and there are no blackening marks, or signs of burning, that does not mean internal damage did not occur. The internal wood of the tree could have these blackening areas, suggesting burning.

It is vitally important that if you happen to see any of these signs or symptoms after a thunderstorm, please contact your arborist. The tree will need an inspection as soon as possible.

If you have a key or special tree in your yard, ask your Arborist about a lightning protection system.

Trees Reaction to Wind

Thunderstorm wind is no Hurricane, but it affects the integrity of the tree, nonetheless. Storm winds have the potential to move tree crowns and stems, which generally happen when interior growth is not accounted for or pruned out. When this part of the tree is moved, root plates may move. Moving tree crowns and root plates result in twisting and bending that may cause a part of the tree to fail.

Preemptive Steps to Protect Trees During Thunderstorms

The integrity of a tree is dependent on a regular care inspection by an arborist to ensure sustainability in the case of a thunderstorm.

Your Arborist may schedule regular pruning to thin out the tree canopy allowing for wind to flow through easily.

Using cables and braces are vital when dealing with trees suffering from poor branch structure. Cables or braces allow the weight of the branches to be evenly distributed to combat against bending and breaking during storms.

Lightning is a powerful force that with the installation of a protection system, impact can be minimalized. These systems force the electricity generated through a storm to be redirected to the ground through conductive cables.

Finally, consider calling an arborist for regular care inspections to provide maintenance and reliability for your trees. Keeping up with watering, fertilizing, mulching, pests, disease, and fungus, allows for the longevity of your trees when weather conditions are good and bad.

Inspecting a Tree After a Storm

Just because the tree didn’t fall, doesn’t mean that the integrity of the tree is sound. This means walking through your property and identifying trees slightly bent, leaning on other trees, or leaning on structures should be addressed. These trees may need attention, so they do not fall completely and damage the property surrounding them.

While walking through your property pay close attention to utility wires. Trees are conductors of electricity, if the tree was in contact with utility wires during a storm, a fire could take place. Similarly, if the structural integrity of the foundation does not hold, the tree itself could fall on the utility wires, resulting in power shortages and hazards depending on the fall of the tree.

Broken branches still in, and attached to the tree, should not be removed by you, call your Arborist.  We care about your safety!

What is the best way to prevent tree or property damage from a storm- regular maintenance prior to the windstorm or thunderstorm.

2019-10-02T13:41:31-06:00 August 8th, 2019|