There are a few things you should never do during a lightning storm – raise a metal golf club into the sky, hop into your neighbor's pool for a dip, or take a long walk in an open field. Those may seem pretty obvious, barring one tidbit of life-saving advice: for the love of the rain gods above us, don't stand under trees during a lightning storm. Just don't do it.
If you've never seen what happens to trees when they're struck by lightning, prepare to be absolutely terrified. These pictures are a testament to just how painfully destructive Mother Nature can be, and if one thing is for certain – she does not care if you're standing in her way. Maybe you thought you were safe because there's no way lightning would hit you with that tall, enticing tree at your side. You could not be more wrong. If being pelted with magma-hot tree guts and bark shrapnel seems like your cup of tea, by all means, venture out there.
Being struck by lightning is often regarded as one of the most unlucky things you could possibly experience. Seriously, so few people get hit, it's like the universe had to have it out for you - but it doesn't have to be deadly. In fact, some lightning-strike victims escape with some burns, memory loss, or even strange new personalities.
Here's what you need to know about lightning's uniqiue relationship with trees. Now fold up the umbrella that you're basically using as a lightning rod and get inside.
When A Tree Is Struck By Lightning, Liquids Are Vaporized Causing An Explosion
Don't fool yourself into thinking you're safe hiding under a tree during a lightning storm just because it's taller than you are. Trees have a nasty habit of exploding when they're struck.
Most of the time, trees are grounded. Lightning will run just beneath the bark and disperse into the ground, leaving a couple scars and a strip where the bark was blown away. Bystanders can look forward to being given a lethal dose of electricity as the ground in the immediate area picks up the electric charge.
Other times, though, lightning penetrates the tree near the center. The moisture inside of its trunk is turned to gas, which builds up pressure and causes the tree to explode. There's nearly nothing more gruesome than being impaled by shards of tree bark, except maybe being impaled by tree bark and then promptly electrocuted as the lightning jumps from the tree to you.
This Tree Lit On Fire From The Inside Out And Exploded
Aren't you glad you weren't hiding under this tree when lightning struck? This photo was taken minutes after a tree was struck by lightning in Oklahoma. The insides were still smoldering, and the lighting appeared to have blown a hole completely through the tree's trunk. This may look strange, but lightning-struck trees often burn from the inside out because moisture is concentrated within the tree's trunk.
Expect "Pain Like A Thousand Wasps Stinging" From Within
Phil Broscovak, who survived a terrifying lightning strike, only remembers a few things about what happened. All are equally eerie.
"An immense blast of light. A sound like a grenade exploding in his head. A pain like a thousand wasps stinging him from within. A gelatinous blue plasma enveloping his body. And his leg jerking away as though pulled by invisible marionette strings. This is what Phil Broscovak remembers," recounts Outside Online, who spoke to Broscovak about his near-death experience.
Broscovak was struck in August of 2005 when he was camping with his family in Wyoming. The group was rock climbing when a storm loomed overhead. Broscovak got everyone back safely on the ground before the storm actually kicked off. He was gathering up his gear from the rock wall when his rope became tangled in a bush. As he was trying to untangle himself, he was indirectly struck. The lightning hit the rock wall, and knocked him out. He woke up dangling 170 feet in the air in his harness as his family screamed in terror. He miraculously survived.
Lichtenberg Figure Scarring
Those who are struck by lightning sometimes receive a rather unique pattern of scarring that looks much like the lightning itself. This is called a Lichtenberg figure and it occurs when blood vessels burst as lightning courses through the skin. These burn scars are in the shape of your blood vessels because your body is literally being burned by the heat and electricity pumping through your own veins.