Monday, August 31, 2015

I Dodged a Bullet, er, Bolt of Lightning!

I DODGED A BULLET, ER, BOLT OF LIGHTNING last night, that struck 20 feet away from me!  Yesterday evening,  I watched streaks of lightning dance across the sky, and almost subconsciously counted the seconds till the thunder sounded.  Five seconds, then three then practically zero. Yikes, that's too close for comfort!  I moved away from my view at the plate glass windows, to a room whose windows were steel encased- boarded up, Florida-style, in anticipation of  a visit from Erika, the tropical storm that fortunately fizzled. The thunder soon was near, and quite loud, but certainly nothing anyone would call "deafening." Little did I know  then what I learned today; lightning struck the tall black sapote tree, 20 feet from me, and crashed its upper half to the ground. I learned of this an hour ago, when I went to collect some fruit from the tree to bring to a friend. Something was very wrong as I approached the tree.
Path obstructed by downed tree's limbs and fruit
   The walkway under the tree was now obliterated by a wall of green foliage . I came closer to the tree, to make sense of this bizarre finding. The abundant foliage-clad top of the tree was snapped off, blackened at the break by lightning's black char. Whoa!  That's not the first lightning-struck tree I've seen. 

You may have seen such trees, too. I started to gather the unripe fruit, only to discover the most amazing part of the story. The lightning had "cooked" all the unripe fruit on the downed tree section! Compared to the firm, round unripe fruit on branches unaffected by the lightning, the difference was apparent.

 All the affected fruit was abundantly wrinkled, very soft, and well, cooked! 
Now wrinkled, cooked fruit still on the tree's branches
 Alas, cooking unripe fruit with over 100,000 volts does not  ripen the fruit.

Lightning struck, wrinkled immature fruits on left, normal round immature fruits on right, with one mature-sized fruit at top for comparison.

Cut surface of "cooked' lightning damaged fruit on left, vs firm round undamaged fruit on right.
Oh well, my poor tree. I'll  saw off the downed trunk branches, haul them to the curb, and sadly toss out dozens of overcooked, unripe black sapote fruits!  By the way, I do have battery backups and surge protectors on my computer and other small appliances. As their function lights are all on to show they are working, i can only assume the hapless tree took 100% of the lightning strike.

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