November 21, 2012

Lightning strike evidence of Mother Nature's power

A recent lightning strike and its deadly outcome at a NASCAR race in Pennsylvania reminded me of the time I witnessed the remnants of a lightning strike near Timothy Lake in the Oregon Cascades. It was yet another reminder of how awesomely powerful Mother Nature can be.

While hiking the 12 mile loop around Timothy Lake, I came upon a portion of the snow covered trail covered with wood debris, some the size of a 2x4 stud. Stopping to look closer at the wood chunks, I noticed a swath of the slim yet tall pines I was hiking through had been mangled and even flattened in some instances.

Through the opening in the forest, smaller debris was scattered about at the foot of a large tree. My eyes traced from the foot of the tree up a peculiar line that extended up to the tip of the tree. The line was where the bark had been stripped from the tree, obviously by a lightning strike.

I had never seen anything like it. The wood debris was freshly separated from the tree, something that must have happened only hours prior. The explosion separating the wood splinters from the tree must have been incredibly powerful, having knocked down trees and mangled others. Debris was strewn at least 20 yards from the tree.

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