Lightning rips tree; sections hurled

April 10, 2013

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Hood County rancher Gerald Hayworth didn’t know what it was.

A loud boom pierced the late-night quiet, but it didn’t cause great alarm.

He stayed in his warm bed.

“I thought if it’s going to get me, it’s going to get me while I’m sleeping,” he said with a smile.

“It,” Hayworth found out later, was a sensational lightning strike that demolished a large live oak tree in the pasture below his house

One large piece shot 135 yards away. The boom was after midnight Monday, April 1, and it was no joke.

“It was the kind that makes you sit up in bed,” Hayworth said.

Gerald and his wife Shirley, both retired coaches and teachers, have lived in their home off Weatherford Highway near the Hood-Parker county line since 1966.

They’ve had plenty of lightning storms, but nothing like this on their 60-plus acres.

“I’ve never seen a tree torn into shreds like this one,” Hayworth said. “This tree took full destruction.”

What amazed Hayworth was the way the explosion hurled large pieces of the tree.

It scattered pieces in every direction.

“I would say this debris field is at least 200 yards around,” the rancher said.

He pointed to one piece about 6 feet long. Another, probably the largest, is 10 to 12 feet.

He even found one piece more than a football field away. He stepped off the distance. He was a coach.

“I found this one section 135 yards from the tree,” he said. “It’s about 5 feet long and probably weighs 190 pounds.”

Hayworth found indentions in the mud where they “hit and ricocheted.” Think of wooden missiles.

Hayworth raises cattle, but none were injured.

The destroyed tree was about 50 feet tall and among a cluster of live oaks. Pieces slammed into some of those trees, peeling off the bark.

On the positive side, the Hayworths received over 3 inches of much-need rain.

“We got a really nice rain,” Hayworth said. “Hopefully we won’t have any more lightning strikes, but I guess you have to take the lightning with the rain.”

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