Lightning Strikes Tree on Moravian Campus

Lightning strikes a tree on campus in the traffic circle between Rau Hall and Bernhardt Hall, June, 2001.  The lightning strike was observed by many members of the Johns Hopkins staff who were attending a training session in the lounge area of Rau Hall, and who were facing the windows that look out onto the traffic circle.

photo by member of physical plant staff

The lightning stroke turned the sap to steam and blew off the bark along one side of the tree.  It also killed an unlucky squirrel who happened to be in the tree at the time the lightning struck.  Several branches, assorted leaves, and the squirrel, fell immediately from the tree, and a strip of bark was blown away from the trunk.  Some of these items can be seen on the ground in the foreground.

photo by member of Physical Plant staff

The bark was separated from the woody tissue around approximately three-quarters of the tree's trunk, so a person could slide each hand between the bark and the wood, both to the left and right of the main lightning channel, for a distance of about half the diameter of the tree trunk.

photo by J. Gerencher

The tree was cut down on the same day it was struck because it presented a danger to passersby on that portion of the campus.  This photograph, obtained the next day, shows the stump of the tree with the Haupert Student Union Building in the background.  A geological rock hammer is provided on the stump for scale.

photo by J. Gerencher

This is a closer view of the stump, with the rock hammer located in the portion of the tree which was the main path for the lightning.

photo by J. Gerencher

This is a close-up of the separation of the bark from the woody tissue in the vicinity of the path taken by the lightning, as partially revealed in the structures remaining in the stump.  All stump photographs were taken the day following the lightning strike.