What To Do When Your Tree Is Struck By Lightning

Arborists in Los Gatos, CA Share Information About Lightning Strikes and Trees

What Happens When A Tree Is Struck By Lightning?

A summer storm rolls through, bringing with it wind, rain, thunder, and lightning. If you have tall trees on your property, you might worry that they will be struck by lightning, and justifiably so. In the United States each year, there are about 25 million lightning strikes, many of which strike tall trees.

Lightning strikes happen when the electrical charge built up in the clouds connects with an electrical charge built up on the ground, usually in tall buildings, structures, or trees. The connection allows the rapid flow of electricity, which can burn as hot as 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting flash is stunning but deadly.

What Tree Damage Can Be Caused By A Lightning Strike?

The amount of damage inflicted by a lightning strike depends on what kind of tree it is, how much moisture is within the tree, and the environment. If the outer layer of the tree is completely soaked due to recent rainfall, the electric current will travel down the outside of the tree to the ground, leaving behind very little damage.

But trees usually do sustain a great deal of damage from lightning. When the lightning strikes, it immediately heats all the moisture inside the tree, which can result in loss of bark or fire. Oftentimes the force of the lightning splits the tree right in half.

Trees that are not totally destroyed by lightning can still survive for several years. However, the damage leaves them vulnerable to insect invasion and disease. Some trees may be struck repeatedly due to their location.

What To Do When Your Tree Has Been Struck By Lightning

If you know one of your trees has been the victim of a lightning strike, the first thing to do is wait for the storm to pass and it’s safe to go outside. Never stand under a tree during a lightning storm!

The next thing to do is a tree inspection. Look for obvious signs of damage, such as peeling bark, fallen limbs, and splits in the trunk. You can trim away broken branches, but don’t do any heavy pruning until consulting an arborist. A tree that has suffered a lightning strike is already stressed, and cutting branches may harm it further.

To nurse a damaged tree back to health, you can give it extra water and fertilizer. There is no guarantee that it will survive, but if it produces buds the following spring, it has a good chance to pull through.

If the tree is destroyed and you have safety concerns, call a professional tree service company. Many offer emergency tree services, to trim damaged limbs, or tree removal if it is beyond saving.

Schedule A Tree Risk Assessment

To provide the best care for your trees, it’s a good idea to schedule a tree inspection with a professional tree service company. Arborists are trained to examine the tree for cavities, pruning wounds, cankers, disease, damaged roots, and other tree hazards. With this tree risk assessment, they will rate your tree on how likely it is to flourish.

More importantly, an arborist can provide advice and an action plan on how to care for your trees to promote health and longevity. A healthy tree is more likely to survive lightning strikes and other damaging events. Trees provide shade, clean air, and increased property value, so they should be cared for in a way that reflects their importance.

Consult ArborWorks, Inc.

ArborWorks has been caring for trees in Los Gatos, CA for over 50 years. They offer tree risk assessments, trimming and pruning, tree cutting, and tree removal, as well as irrigation and landscaping services. Their ISA Certified Arborists will work with you to create a plan to nurture and protect your existing trees.


Anyone who really cares about their trees knows how hard it is to find a good tree trimmer. I’ve used both major name brands, and self employed tree trimmers, and have never been very satisfied, until now. ArborWorks trimmed my trees as carefully as I would have, if I knew how to climb trees!Don McIntyre, owner, responded within two days of my call, and his estimate was fair and thorough. He personally brought the foreman of the crew to my site to go over the job the evening before the crew would actually arrive. Don also visits the site as the work is performed, to make sure everything goes smoothly.If my trees could vocalize, they’d sing about the space created for light to enter the crown, and how good it feels to have the weight off the ends of the limbs. Even neighbors have come by to complement me on how good the trees look. “Best ever”.I only wish I had known about ArborWorks sooner. It took me 32 years to find them. I hope my trees will forgive me for taking so long…
Karen K. Mountain View, CA


Arborworks Inc. Diamond Certified


Gloden Shovel Standard