Last Week’s Lightning Strike

This is a large white oak. At chest height, it measures 11′ 9″ around. It gets even thicker higher up where the limbs start branching out. This photo shows the west side.


These two photos show the east side. The gash here varies from 8 to 10 inches wide.


Much wood and bark was scattered around the yard.


East of the tree, a piece of wood landed 109′ 3″ away. Yes, I measured it. And west of the tree, a piece landed 107′ 5″ away. Everywhere the shredded wood lay, brown juices oozed out, staining the concrete. Iridescence accompanied some of the flow.



I was not home when the strike occurred, so when I heard about it from some church members who had gathered for choir practice and Disciple Bible Study, I thought Faulkner would be terrified. But when I saw him, he was fine, even normal appearing. That was good. His house sits approximately 60′ from the tree. I didn’t measure that.

When I saw the streak marks, running not only down the trunk but also along four major limbs, I thought it unlikely that the tree could survive, and it might not. As of today, though, eight days after the strike, the tree is not showing any wilting of leaves. It would be sad to lose such a wonderful tree, the second-largest in my yard.

Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 4:01 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That is just fascinating! How amazing to think of that happening in a brief instant. I remember a similar incident when I was young – there was a strong scent of syrup in the air for a short time afterwards. Too bad Faulkner can’t share the details of the strike! I’m glad he survived in good shape.

    Response from Steve:
    Hi, Michael. Syrup smell makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about that. Actually, the underside of the larger pieces of bark were very sticky, nearly as bad as pine sap.

    Faulkner’s account of it would be interesting.

  2. WoW! That tree’s been decorticated! Glad Faulkner is none the worse for wear. The iridescence is fascinating! Have you looked for a fulgurite?

    Response from Steve:
    Hi, Sophie. A fulgurite? I know some Menonites, but none of them were hanging around. Or were you talking about that beach glass kind of substance? It’s too early in the morning to get out my dictionary, so I’ll do that later (although I think I know what you mean). Later on the evening of the strike, ants were already crawling up the breach.

  3. What a magnificent tree. Too bad it was struck, but it may survive. I’ve seen quite a few very large live oaks get hit and carry on as if nothing happened. There was a pine that was hit by lightening 2 years ago in my neighbors back yard; I saw it happen. It was actually smoking afterwards, but is still alive. That one surprises me.

    Response from Steve:
    Hey, thanks for the hope. It will be really interesting to see what eventually happens with this one.

  4. Wow! Looks like a lot of ozone was produced on that strike!

    I remember that tree being close to your carport.

    A small oak was struck by lightening 7 years ago in our back yard, and it died within a year.

    It is still standing, but the ants, termites, beetles have made good use of it.

    Hope Faulkner’s ears are holding up fine.

    Response from Steve:
    Hey, Joel. I think Faulkner is fine. And yes, the tree is close, between my garage and the apartment where our summer youth worker lives. He was actually shocked through game controls he was using when the lightning hit.

  5. I am reading and loving the beauty of your site. I am getting to tag along on some great adventures on your blog and so glad to be on the ride. Photography is incredible! I love the St. Simons pictures. They are soulful and majestic. I am overwhelmed at the beauty of water. Have PC issues also, so try me at when you can or the old-fashioned phone.

    Response from Steve:
    Hi, Lynne. Thanks for writing. I appreciate your compliments about my blog and am glad you’re enjoying it.

  6. This is the first I’ve heard about the lightning strike. Thanks for the pictures. Just checking out the web and found your Blog. I will continue to visit. Let me know when you are coming to Mn.

    Response from Steve:
    Wow, how exciting that you just found my blog! Welcome, Gene. Thanks for looking around, and feel free to comment on any of the other stuff going on here, old or current. I will be in MN for a little while in late August. I’ll call you soon and let you know.

  7. […] see from the photos, the beautiful white oak in my back yard is not surviving the lightning strike. (Here’s the previous post in case some readers missed it.) It looks so much smaller than it did before. Do trees shrink as the sap stops flowing and the […]

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