Campus News

Tree biology and health care professor talks tree disintegration by lightning

Kim Coder

Kim D. Coder, a tree biology and health care professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, was recently quoted in a Business Insider article about a tree getting struck by lightning.

Students were preparing for their ACT Aspire test in a small Wisconsin town when they heard the deafening roar of thunder. In the span of a couple seconds, a bolt of lightning struck a tree, and it crumbled.

Coder shed light on what likely happened.

“The current enters near the treetop and generates a large explosive pressure on the tree,” he said. “The tree shatters due to the explosive force of the current movement down the stem with large splinters and fractured wood thrown around.

“This tree sustained a ground strike connection and internalized some of the energy causing massive fractures along the stem at different locations,” he said.

Coder said its total obliteration was very “unusual.”