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Lightning hits tree during game

Strike ripped bark, branches from tree during weekend storm

Lightning+struck+this+tree+approximately+15+feet+away+from+an+outfield+fence+at+the+City+Playfields+during+a+softball+game+Sunday+night%2C+leaving+a+scar+on+the+trunk.+
Lightning struck this tree approximately 15 feet away from an outfield fence at the City Playfields during a softball game Sunday night, leaving a scar on the trunk.

Lightning struck this tree approximately 15 feet away from an outfield fence at the City Playfields during a softball game Sunday night, leaving a scar on the trunk.

Dylan Greene | The Daily Evergreen

Dylan Greene | The Daily Evergreen

Lightning struck this tree approximately 15 feet away from an outfield fence at the City Playfields during a softball game Sunday night, leaving a scar on the trunk.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen news editor

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Lightning struck a tree bordering a softball field in use at the City Playfield during a thunderstorm Sunday.

A softball game was taking place when the lightning strike ripped bark off the tree, sending players into a frenzy, WSU graduate student Jordan Vossen said.

“After [the strike] everyone was pretty much running and yelling that everyone stay away from the trees and try to get out of there as fast as possible,” Vossen said. “We all exited the field pretty quickly.”

No one appeared to be hurt by the hazardous weather at the game, but Vossen said she could feel some effects of the strike even though she didn’t directly see it.

“We all felt it, especially those of us who were on the field,” she said. “I felt tingling all the way up my legs, but that’s about it. Kind of like when you get shocked by an electric fence.”

Another player, Brenda Barrio, an assistant professor in the College of Education, said she was standing in the outfield approximately 40 feet from the tree with her back turned when the flash happened.

“It was very much a jolt,” she said. “I don’t remember exactly if it was an electric jolt or just because of the loud noise, but I dropped to the floor. Then I just ran.”

The strike stripped a line of bark off the tree trunk on its way to the ground and small branches began to fall. However, the tree did not appear to catch fire, Vossen said.

The tree, which sits within about 15 feet of the outfield fence at one of the fields, remains standing. The scar, approximately 10-20 feet in length, stands out as the bark exposed by the strike is lighter than the rest of the trunk.

Vossen estimated the strike occurred at about 7 p.m. Sunday when the game was near its halfway point. She said she hadn’t seen any lightning strikes or heard any thunder claps prior to the incident.

However, Barrio said she had seen lighting earlier, but it appeared distant and there were little-to-no clouds above the fields at the time. She also said the walking path next to the tree was luckily empty, as anyone on the path would likely have been hurt.

Barrio also said most of the group left after the strike, although some stayed and snapped photos. She said the group plans on being more careful with weather in the future.

The National Weather Service recommends staying indoors and away from electrical appliances and windows during a thunderstorm. Other recommendations include seeking shelter if any thunder claps are audible, even if lightning cannot be seen, and staying in a car if a sturdier dwelling is not readily available.

NWS also suggests avoiding elevated lands, isolated or tall trees and metal objects such as dugouts if shelter cannot be reached in a timely manner.

About the Writer
IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Ian Smay is a senior journalism & media production major, with an emphasis in broadcast news, from Dayton, Washington. He is also minoring in criminal...

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Lightning hits tree during game