Will trees near my home increase the chance of a lightning strike?

Trees for Energy Conservation April 27, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Lightning is one of nature's most powerful forces and is the 2nd leading cause of weather-related deaths. Since trees are often the tallest objects in the landscape, they are vulnerable to being struck by lightning. Only about one-third of the lightning deaths in the United States occur under or near unprotected trees.

Properly installed tree lightning protection systems should be considered for trees that are within 10 feet of a structure, are taller than the adjacent structure, or with limbs overhanging the structure. Tree lightning protection systems are a risk management tool that can minimize tree damage, reduce collateral damage around a tree and provide a preferred path for electrical charges to the ground. They do not prevent or reduce the risk of lightning striking a tree but they do control the path of the lightning after it hits. Tree lightning protection systems must be installed and maintained by a qualified arborist. Design standards for lightning protection systems are governed by the standards set forth in the ANSI A300 (Part 4) -2008  Lightning Protection Systems.

Trees provide many benefits to our home landscapes and planted at half the width of the mature canopy spread from your house pose little threat to your home.  Properly installed and maintained tree lightning protection systems manage risks from lightning strikes. 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.