With the temperatures heating up, we’ve had number of summer storms lately. A professional photographer in the area caught a picture of a lightning bolt striking a tree.
I’m fascinated by the phenomenon. I suspect because I used to worry as a kid — with a lot of prodding from my jokester, older brothers — about lightning striking our house. Why did I worry about our house versus the guy next door or the one down the street? Who knows?
Hotter than the sun
Lightning can have devastating effects on people, property and trees. A lightning bolt can reach 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about five times hotter than the surface of our sun. Lightning strikes the United States 20 million times per year and on average, kills 93 people per year. (By the way, Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., averaging thunderstorms 70-100 days per year.)
Tall trees like Pine and Oak can be vulnerable to lightning, especially those growing in open areas such as on hills, pastures, or near water. A tree’s biological functions and structural integrity are affected by lightning strikes. For some trees, this bolt of fire is too much for them, and the entire tree shatters or catches on fire. But sometimes, the tree is hardly affected at all. With proper care and, if the injury is not too intense, a lightning-struck tree can survive for years.
More common than you think
Folk wisdom says the odds of a lightning strike are one in a million. The National Weather Service actually says that the chance of someone getting struck by lightning in their lifetime is much riskier at 1-in-15,300.
We may never see a lightning strike, but we all have one in a million shots in our lives. I can think of a few in mine:
–Finding my wife, having a great family, and each other.
–Getting an education and having an opportunity to move out of the small town where I grew up.
–Getting a chance to write every day for a living and for my passion.
Those one in a million shots are a bit tamer than getting struck by lightning, but just as powerful.