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A Closer Look At Common Tree Threats: Lightning Strikes

Houston sees its fair share of large and destructive thunderstorms throughout the year, bringing with them high winds, heavy rain, and dangerous lightning. Although most people worry about lightning striking people, homes, or businesses, the reality is that the most common victim of lightning strikes are trees. While a tree might be able to survive a lightning strike, they are usually left severely damaged and might require a complete tree removal down the road. Today’s blog post takes a closer look at lightning strikes and what can be done to help protect trees from the full force of these deadly acts of Mother Nature.

Why Do They Strike Trees?

Trees act as a lightning rod because of their taller height and moisture levels inside the tree bark. The sap and water inside a tree are great conductors for electricity, so lightning ends up striking them as it searches for a place to come into contact with the ground. Because they are far more likely to be struck by lightning than buildings or homes, it makes them unsafe places to hide near during a storm.

Immediate Damage Caused By Lightning

A single bolt of lightning can cause the moisture inside the tree to rapidly heat up and expand, causing bark to literally explode off the tree. These can lead to tree fires as well as damages and injuries to property or people nearby the tree at the point of impact. Lightning can also cause structural damage when major branches or limbs break off, requiring them to either need complete tree removal, strategic pruning, or cabling and bracing to secure the tree.

Long-Term Damage Caused By Lightning

Exposed areas of bark from lightning strikes can make trees highly susceptible to insect infestations and devastating tree diseases. Tree wounds can also become a breeding ground for mold or fungi to attack the tree, further compromising tree health and stability. In addition, trees can begin to lean dangerously over time because of damages to the root system or major limbs, making them a property hazard. Finally, trees damaged by lightning strikes can quickly become a property eyesore, increasing the need for tree removal.

Although property owners can never completely protect a tree from a lightning strike, there are proactive steps owners can take to protect historic or valuable trees from lightning damages. Embark Services offers Lightning Protection Systems to protect trees by diffusing the amount of electrical surge between storm clouds and the ground, preventing the tree and root system from sustaining a direct lightning strike. In addition, a Lightning Protection System also works to decrease the likelihood of side flashes that can also cause damage to nearby trees, buildings, property and people. Contact Embark Services today for more information about our Lightning Protection Systems, or go online to request a free consultation!