Saturday morning around 8 a.m., a lightning bolt struck a tree in the Canfield Village Green causing a tree to explode. The tree is a complete loss and the explosion even caused damage to the Canfield Village Green sign.
The Storm Team 27 VIPIR Radar detected the lightning strike this morning as an area of heavy rain pushed through the Valley.
People told First News they could hear the explosion all across town. Jessica Simecek lives about 10 minutes away from the greens. She says she heard a loud crack and a long roll — and that it was intense!
“This morning, we, I was awake just kind of like on my phone and we had the dog and my partner was in the bed next to me and heard this very loud bang,” Simecek said. “It shook the house, kept rolling. It actually woke him up. He’s a pretty sound sleeper. So it was it was pretty loud. Even the dog, the dog’s pretty good about not being scared by thunder. And he kind of looked at me like, Mom, what’s going on?”
She says she loves the Canfield Green and is so grateful that the gazebo didn’t get crushed.
This lightning strike was also unique because it had a positive charge. Only about 5% of lightning strikes have a positive charge, so they are much less common than lightning strikes with negative charge.
Another unique fact about positive charge lightning strikes is that they are the main cause for lightning fatalities and wildfires. In fact, positive charge lightning strikes are more powerful on average compared to negative charged strikes.
The average negative cloud-to-ground lightning strike is comprised of 30 kiloamps of current and 15 coulombs of electric charge. The average positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike is much stronger with 400 kiloamps of current and hundreds of coulombs of electric charge.
How did the lightning cause the tree to explode?
The reason the lightning strike caused the tree to explode is the same reason that lightning causes thunder: rapid expansion. Lightning, as you might expect, is extremely hot. In fact, the average lightning strike has a temperature of 50,000°F which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun!
Lightning heats the surrounding air extremely quickly. This results in a rapid expansion of the surrounding air. Then, the lightning strike stops which causes a rapid contraction of the surrounding air due to the loss of heat. This rapid expansion and contraction creates the sound wave that we know as thunder.
This same process happens when lightning strikes a tree. The violent expansion and contraction results in the tree exploding!