Lightning strike vaporizes, explodes bark off of a tree in northeast Huntsville Saturday evening

Curt and Cari Worshek sent this photo Saturday evening of bark exploding off of a tree after a lightning strike to WHNT News 19 from northeast Huntsville:

“Fascinating and scary at the same time! Thankful no one was hurt!” Cari told us via email.

She further explained: “It happened soooo fast!  I was about to get out of the car to beat the rain! My husband was already inside and saw a bright orange flash.  The bark “exploded!” It’s crazy to see how far it is strewn…Praise God that no one was hurt! I will be much more “respectful” of lightning from now on!”

We at WHNT News 19 are thankful that no one was hurt, and we thank Cari and Curt for sharing their photo with us!

By the way, none of the storms that developed Saturday were severe (ie, no hail and wind gusts were below 58 mph).

But the lightning was definitely present! Remember: A storm doesn’t have to be severe to cause lightning damage. Lightning is 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (vaporizing the sap within the tree bark), and one lightning stroke can contain 100 million to 1 billion volts and generate as many as a billion watts of energy!

So even if there are no warnings issued for severe weather, if you hear thunder or see a flash, you need to go inside a building as soon as possible. NEVER stand under a tree: The electrical current can flash off the tree and strike you, and the exploding bark can also fly off and injure you, as this photo can attest.

One way to stay on top of the lightning is to use our LiveAlert 19 app. It will let you know when lightning is detected near your location, that way you can monitor the lightning threat even if no storm clouds seem to be present nearby.