Too Close For Comfort

Right before I went to bed Tuesday night, I heard a loud BAM outside from a close lightning strike. We had the drapes drawn, so I couldn’t really see the flash from the lightning, but I could tell it was close – too close for comfort. My wife was already fast asleep, and didn’t hear a thing. Everything seemed to be all right in the house, so I went to bed myself.


tulip poplar tree struck by lightning (click on any image to enlarge)

The next morning I looked over at the cemetery across the road from us, and I saw what the lightning had hit. The bark was peeled away from the giant tulip poplar tree over there, which is the largest of the trees in the small cemetery.


bark split from tulip poplar tree

For those not familiar with it, the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a common sight in this part of the world. This fast growing tree has tulip shaped blossoms in spring. This one just happens to be blooming now. The wood is lightweight and not very good for fuel, but it is easy to work and much used for woodworking and cabinetry.


large bloom of tulip poplar tree

The tulip poplar is also the state tree of Indiana. I don’t know if this fine specimen will survive the lightning strike or not. It’s safe to say it will never be the same even if it does make it.


jagged piece on trunk of tree after lightning strike

The sapwood and bark literally exploded from the tree, and was scattered all around on the ground. Some of the pieces were nearly eight feet long, and several inches thick. They looked like giant slabs of rough, twisted lumber.


large piece of wood from lightning strike

We were lucky the lightning didn’t strike on our side of the road. The outcome could have been a lot different. I’ve been through a couple of close lightning strikes before and they were expensive events, requiring replacement of all sort of electrical devices and appliances.

I know it’s the natural way of things for wind or lightning to take a giant tree, but it’s still sad to see it when it happens. I’m just thankful no one was hurt this time around. Except for the tree, of course.




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19 Responses to Too Close For Comfort

  1. Ali says:

    I am glad to hear you are surviving the rough weather. Sorry to hear about the tree, and glad it was not on your property. My yard was hit by lightening once, and it was expensive. I had JUST unplugged the computer, but we lost most of the other appliances and had to have a couple of electrical sockets replaced. I could feel my hair standing up.

    Here’s hoping the storm clouds pass and the weather moderated right quick!

    • Villager says:

      That’s the experience I had – twice. I lost a dishwasher, garage door opener, tv, satellite receiver, and several electrical outlets. We had a brief electrical storm again this afternoon. I stayed inside!

  2. Daphne Gould says:

    I used to live in Colorado on top of a small mountain. My dad had put up a large tower for TV reception. The tower got hit all the time by lightning. We always unplugged the TV from the tower when the lightning moved in which was often. I guess at least the trees never got hit.

  3. Emily says:

    Glad to see that you and your wife are safe. I remember seeing a tree hit by lightening across the street from my house when I was growing up. It sure is a sight!

  4. Kaveh says:

    Poor tulip tree. I guess that is the price they pay for being the tallest trees on the east coast.

    • Villager says:

      There is a sycamore nearby that is almost as tall, but the tulip tree was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time!

  5. Jody says:

    A very close call indeed. Did the hair on your neck stand up? There’s been lighting storms everywhere lately. I didn’t hear it myself, but friends told me today that last night we had a lightning storm that lasted for hours.

    • Villager says:

      The hair on my neck didn’t stand up, but I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard the noise of the strike!

  6. Tom says:

    Too bad about the tree, but could have been worse. We’ve had our share of lightening strikes here, some causing electrical device damage and replacement. We had one about 6 years ago hit a pine tree in our back yard. The strike killed the pine tree and the large oak tree next to it (and our TV!!).

    Congrats on the bluebird nest!! We have a family in the house my son built in Cub Scouts. I have some video I hope to put together in a mini “documentary” once they are out of the nest.

    • Villager says:

      I am excited about the bluebirds. The eggs should be hatching any time now. It’s been 10 days since I discovered the nest, and the incubation period is usually 12-14 days. I’d love to see your video!

  7. It’s always sad when those big old trees are hit by lightening, blown down in strong winds or burned in forest fires.

    When I was a small child, I was staying with my grandparents and the neighbor’s water pump, on their back porch, was hit by lightening. It was such a jolt, Grandma said it knocked my right out of bed. Lightening is frightening (hey, I made a poem!).

  8. Oh my goodness! Pardon the pun, but it looks like that would have been enough to wake the dead. So glad that didn’t happen closer to you. I always jump here when I hear trees crack and fall, but thankfully we don’t see much lightening here!

  9. Kat says:

    so did the tree die or was it taken down (cut) right away after the strike? what happened to the tree?

  10. Chris Hale says:

    My poplar tulip just got hit the other day and wonder if it will make it. I noticed it dropped a lot of blossoms yesterday and I know that can’t be good. I’m glad to hear yours made it.

    • Dave @ HappyAcres says:

      The tree here is still alive. It’s amazing, considering that much of the bark is still gone. But it survives.

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