Tree Incidents Increase with Sacramento Weird Weather

Nevada City Tree Injures Juvenile

One of several Northern California tree incidents occurred on Saturday, August 15, 2020.  The Grass Valley Firefighters Facebook page reported that a response was required near Northern Queen due to reports of a person struck by a tree. The responders found a juvenile who had been riding his bike when the tree fell.  The injured boy was able to disembark from his bicycle and take cover next to a hill.  He then became temporarily trapped between the hill and the fallen tree but was eventually able to free himself.  He was taken as a precaution to Sutter Roseville Hospital, where he was evaluated and found to have a minor ankle injury.  

Lightning Strikes Tree in Midtown Sacramento

In the early morning hours of August 17, 2020, lightning and thunder woke many Sacramento residents.  The unusual weather caused a tree to fall in midtown Sacramento, near the Rite Aid at 22nd and F Streets.  The incident caused many residents to temporarily lose power, but no one was injured.

Lightning Can Cause Tree Incidents

Lightning storms are some of nature’s most awesome and impressive displays. Lightning can have destructive effects on property, trees, and people. A lightning strike can extend to over five miles in length and reach temperatures hotter than 50,000 degrees!  The charge of electricity produced by some lightning strikes can be 100 million volts. Systems that detect lightning strikes within the United States document 25 million per year, on average.

Because trees are usually the tallest objects in a landscape, they are particularly susceptible to lightning strikes.  When a tree is struck by lightning, its structural integrity and/or biological functions can be affected.  Cells explode within the wood along the course of the bolt’s strike.  Evidence of the wound includes peeling bark or wood blown off the tree.  If the strike is only to one side, the wound may eventually close and the tree may survive.  However, if the bolt runs through the entire tree trunk, exploding wood on either side, the tree will usually die.  

One particular danger is that often trees are grievously injured below ground, or internally by a lightning strike.  Those trees do not show visible signs of damage, since the current passed through the tree via the roots.  If this happens, the damage to the roots could cause the tree to ultimately die even though it shows no sign of above-ground damage.  In such instances, tree death occurs remarkably quickly.  If the tree’s life cycle is in the leaf stage, the leaves will wilt and within a few days of the lightning strike, the tree will die.  Because the damage is not visible, it becomes nearly impossible to warn against the potential for the tree to fall.

Lightning strikes can also create dangerous broken branches.  In such a case, therapeutic pruning should be performed to prevent broken and injured branches from crashing to the ground. If a tree on your property is struck by lightning, it is recommended that you schedule a consultation with a certified arborist for advice about the health and safety of your injured tree. If you notice a damaged tree on public property, consult the city or county agency responsible for public tree maintenance to report the issue.

With the hot, windy, and generally weird weather in the forecast, be on the lookout for more potentially dangerous tree incidents.  

Watch the YouTube video documenting what a lightning strike can do to a massive redwood.

Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney.  You may be unaware, but oftentimes a person who is injured as a result of a falling tree is entitled to recover monetary damages. If you find yourself in this situation or have a loved one who was injured by a fallen tree or tree branch, give my office a call at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.  I can offer free and friendly advice. 

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