Lightning Blast

by Carl Strang

The most dramatic event at Mayslake Forest Preserve last week came during one of the several storms that passed through the area on consecutive days. An old ash tree on the mansion grounds was struck by lightning.

The strike did not simply create a wound, it blasted out one side of the tree.

The strike did not simply create a wound, it blasted out one side of the tree.

Mayslake’s site manager Janneke Waal-Fowers provides some scale as she examines the injured tree.

Mayslake’s site manager Janneke Waal-Fowers provides some scale as she examines the injured tree.

This example indicates why taking cover during a thunderstorm is well advised.

This heavy, pointed piece more than 15 feet long was thrown 50 feet away from the tree.

This heavy, pointed piece more than 15 feet long was thrown 50 feet away from the tree.

There were several pieces like this, sprayed over 180 degrees. I don’t know the exact trajectory they would have followed, but it’s all too easy to imagine a person standing in the wrong place at the wrong moment being impaled.

The tree had begun to show the effects of an emerald ash borer infestation, and a Forest Preserve District forestry crew took it down the next day. Fortunately there was no damage to the nearby Portiuncula Chapel or to First Folio Theater’s summer stage. The weddings and the shows will go on.

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