Lightning strike strips tree of bark

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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 1:47 pm

A lightning-struck tree attracted crowds of gawkers this morning outside Loras College’s St. Joseph Hall.

The ash tree, a casualty of severe storms Sunday night, was almost completely stripped of bark.

“There was quite a collection of students taking pictures of it,” said John McDermott, Loras assistant vice president of physical resources. “You can trees that have been zapped and branches that have fallen and limbs that have come off, but this was unique.”

The tree, left a ghostly white color in the aftermath of the violent strike, will not survive the damage, McDermott said. As of early this afternoon, landscaping crews were already removing what was left.

“There’s no saving it now,” he said.

Trees are frequent victims of lightning storms, and stripping of the bark is a fairly common occurrence. The lightning superheats moisture in the tree cells, causing them to burst in a puff of steam.

This frequently results in scarring or stripping of the bark. But it is rare to see the entire circumference of the tree to be left bare from the ground up.

“We’ve had trees hit by lightning, but I’ve never seen one that has pushed the bark off totally,” McDermott said. “It’s amazing.”

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