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Protecting Your Trees from Lightning

By Advance Tree Pros

For most places around the country, this information is useful for only stormy seasons. For us, it matters all year long. Central Florida sees more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the world. And with the summer storms and hurricane season, there’s now more to be concerned about for our trees around Orlando.

Let’s start with why trees get hit by lightning. This is simply because they are tall, easy targets. Put a two-story building with an antenna next to a 50-story building with an antenna, lightning would go for the taller building first. In the case for many communities around Orlando, trees are taller than most of the homes and buildings next to them, so they get to be first in attracting lightning. Other factors that can greatly increase a tree’s chance of being struck include being in open areas, close to bodies of water like lakes, or on hills. No matter what, if they are closest to those stormy skies, they’re going to be a favorite target.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent lightning strikes. Lightning is so unpredictable, and it does the strangest things. More than half of trees that get struck by lightning eventually die. Sometimes the damage is minimal and near the surface, like having patches of missing bark on branches or the trunks. In those cases, there may be a chance that the tree may come out of the strike in tact. Sometimes, the strike can go right to the roots, causing serious damage that leads to the tree being unable to get the nutrients needed to survive. You know this occurs when you see leaves wilting on the tree. Lightning can, of course, also create such an impact that the tree could set on fire, and that could lead to damage to other things, such as your home.

The best way to protect particularly tall trees is the same way you protect your home: with a ground wire. You can get a system that includes a long copper cable that can be nailed into the side of a tree and stretch the whole height. This works because the lightning is both looking for the quickest path to the ground and more “attracted” to the conductive copper than the tree. Just a point about these systems: they won’t prevent a tree from being struck. As mentioned above, nothing can prevent a lightning strike. However, it will help to minimize the harm to the tree and keep it away from the main parts of the tree.

To learn more about caring for trees before or after a storm, or to have a damaged tree removed from your property, give a call to Advance Tree Pros so we can help you.