Lightning Protection for Trees
There are proactive measures you can take to prevent lightning from damaging your trees
We typically only hear about instances when lightning strikes people and buildings. However, an arborist can tell you that trees are the most common victims. Most lightning bolts pass through trees on the way to the ground. This is because trees contain a lot of water and water is a better electrical conductor than air. The tree trunk in particular contains a high concentration of water near the cambium - just under the bark. As the electricity from the lightning surges through the water in the tree trunk, it causes it to boil explosively, blasting off the bark, and sometimes throwing pieces over a hundred feet.
How Tree Lightning Protection Works
Lightning Can Be Dangerous to Trees
Although a typical lightning bolt contains 250 kilowatt hours of electricity, it is the duration of the lightning bolt that determines how destructive it will be. "Cold" bolts are characterized by high electrical current and extremely short duration. One of these penetrating to the heart of a tree can convert it to kindling instantaneously. "Hot” bolts are of lower electrical current but slightly longer duration. They are likely to set things on fire. In fact, this is the source of approximately 7,500 forest fires in the US each year.
Fortunately, in the Eastern US, thunderstorms are usually accompanied by heavy rains that quench any fire that breaks out. However, many historic shade trees are destroyed by lightning. Often, the tree will not be killed instantly, but the open wound created by the lightning strike is an invitation to insects and fungi which can ultimately cause its death.
Protecting Trees from Lightning Damage
The best way to protect trees from a similar fate is to have lightning rods installed. The lightning rod is a simple device and is as effective at protecting trees as it is at protecting other structures such as barns. The metal of the lightning rod provides an even better conductor than the moisture in the trunk, so the lightning bolt is guided down to earth without injuring the tree. While it may be impractical to install a rod in every tree on your landscape, you may narrow down the list of trees which must be protected from lightning by considering these factors:
- Species of tree. Certain tree species may be more or less susceptible to damage by lightning because of the characteristics unique to their species.
- Height of tree and its proximity to your home. Would lightning damage to trees endanger your safety or damage valuable property? If you are not sure whether or not you may require lightning protection, your best defense is to have a certified arborist inspect your trees and provide expert advice.
Call today for a complimentary consultation from our fully trained and certified arborists regarding a safety audit and lightning protection from SavATree. Click here to contact the office nearest you.
Protecting Your Home from Lightning Damage
As homes and buildings are equally at risk, our partner, Independent Protection Company (IPC), can design a lightning protection system tailored to the specifications of your house. IPC is a highly renowned manufacturer and designer of lightning protection equipment.
See how IPC can help you with lightning protection for your home.