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Grass looks a little greener after Thursday’s lightning

First lightning strikes in quite some time responsible for more colorful yards across the area

Photo taken outside WSLS on 2/7/2020
Photo taken outside WSLS on 2/7/2020

ROANOKE, Va. – A lot of the vegetation around us just looks dead this time of year, but both our News Director and I noticed the green popping off the ground Friday morning.

Of course, the past few days of rain could easily play a role in that.

However, it’s interesting to note that lightning may actually have an impact on how green things turn. It has to do with a process known as nitrogen fixation. I know. We’re taking you back to chemistry class.

How nitrogen fixation converts lightning's energy to a green grass
How nitrogen fixation converts lightning's energy to a green grass

Lightning has a lot of energy. That energy actually splits nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere. (Our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen.)

That nitrogen, once it splits, then interacts with oxygen molecules. This creates what we call nitrates.

Rain transports those nitrates down to the ground, where they act as a fertilizer.

So, yes. The grass really is greener on the other side...of this storm system.


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