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Should I Avoid Certain Trees in a Lightning Storm?

I hike in the Midwest and I was told that in a lightning storm that it's best to stay away from hardwoods like hickory trees and oak trees. Is this true?

Question:

I hike in the Midwest and I was told that in a lightning storm that it’s best to stay away from hardwoods like hickory trees and oak trees. Is this true? And if so, why?

Submitted by - Hayley K., Kent, OH

Answer:

I have never heard, and I doubt that, hardwoods are more likely to be struck than other trees.

Lightning has struck, and will continue to strike, isolated trees that make them the tallest object in the vicinity.

Hickory trees and oak trees are probably struck more often in the Midwest because they are more common.

Out here in Wyoming, where I live and where evergreens dominate, evergreens are struck far more often. Stay away from all unusually tall trees during a storm and avoid contact with any tree. Seek uniform cover: trees of uniform height and low rolling hills. —BUCK

1 Comment

  1. Emily Tangren

    I would like to agree with the roots thing. If you are sitting on a root when the tree is electrocuted, you will be shocked too. When I’m canoeing and trees are being struck around me, I sit on my life jacket for extra protection. If you have any thing that isn’t a conductor of electricity, it would be best to sit on it and wait the storm out. (This is of course only if the storm is really, really bad.)

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