Curiosities

Why do trees attract lightning

One of the most spectacular natural phenomena that we can witness are storms and, within them, lightning and lightning are two of its most surprising manifestations. One of the precautions that should be taken whenever a storm is present is not to shelter under the trees, since, as most people know, trees attract lightning.

What are rays

The first thing to consider to understand why trees attract lightning is what lightning is . Lightning strikes are natural electrical discharges that are produced by the accumulation of static electricity in the atmosphere, a phenomenon that occurs especially in electrical storms . These electrical discharges can be of different types, as well as move from one cloud to another or from one cloud to the earth’s surface.

In addition, lightning is accompanied by other phenomena such as lightning and thunder . In the case of lightning, it is the glow produced by electricity-charged clouds that end up producing lightning, while when we talk about thunder, we refer to the sound that lightning produces when displacing its electrical charge.

Why trees attract lightning – simple explanation

The reason trees attract lightning is mainly due to the shape of the trees . Actually, not only trees attract rays, but any pointed object that stands out from the surrounding landscape. This is because electricity, when it travels, will always seek the easiest path to reach the ground. In this way, when lightning is directed from a cloud to the ground, the path of the lightning discharge will always seek the path that acts as the best possible conductor. In this way, because pointed objects raised above the ground offer a better path for electrical discharge, the rays are directed at them rather than continuing their descent towards the ground through the air.

If we think of the shape of a tree, we immediately realize that it is an element that has many pointed parts (the branches) and that it is considerably separated from the ground, which makes it an element that attracts electricity from the rays much more than any other object that is usually around it. However, any object that meets these characteristics will attract the rays. In fact, lightning rods have the exact shape of a pointed and elevated object in order to attract the rays and, in this way, prevent them from falling in other places that are not prepared to manage the electrical energy that the fall of a ray.

The first thing to keep in mind in the event of a storm is where we are. In the case of being in an urban area, the most probable thing is that the lightning rods of the buildings prevent a ray from reaching the ground directly. However, some of the safety measures in a thunderstorm that can be contemplated will consist of:

  • Avoid walking on damp floors.
  • Close doors and windows and stay away from them.
  • Do not light a fire if you have a fireplace.
  • Stay away from metal objects, such as electrical conductors or pipes.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances that are not really necessary.

On the contrary, in the event that we encounter a storm in the middle of the field or a rural area, it is important that we do not carry metal objects (for example, walking sticks in case of hiking). It is also important not to run, especially if we have a wet body. Electronic devices that we carry should be turned off, avoid places near a stream or torrent of water, avoid very open or clear areas, since the highest point on the ground would be our own body, and of course avoid sheltering underneath trees , especially when it comes to solitary trees.

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