S and Z Twist in the Vermont Woods

My husband and I drove to Putney, Vermont, over the weekend to see our darling daughter and her fiancé. We took the dogs on long, slow walks in the woods. Blake - Eliza's fiancé - pointed out a birch tree that had been hit by lightning, which didn't kill the tree but left a big diagonal slice going counter-clockwise around the trunk.

Of course (of course?) I thought of S and Z twist in yarn. Crazy, right?
But it got me thinking: does lightning always travel counter-clockwise when it strikes a tree? You know, sort of like the principle behind water in a drain: in the Northern Hemisphere, it always circles counter-clockwise. In the Southern Hemisphere it travels clockwise.

Well, on our walk the following day, I got my answer.

Z twist! Lightning traveled down THIS birch tree clockwise. So lightning spins both ways. And the trees are still standing.


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