Grass and Lightning

Do April showers bring May flowers?

Is it just the rain? Or does lightning too have something to do with it?

A good question.

A question that was submitted to Joel Block and Deborah Byrd for Earth and Sky:
Listener: "Why does my grass look greener after a lightning storm? Is it true that lightning acts like a fertilizer for plants?"

DB: Lightning can help produce a form of nitrogen that's useful for growing plants. Lightning can cause oxygen and nitrogen in Earth's atmosphere to combine -- to form nitrogen oxide -- the main nutrient in lawn fertilizers. But that's not the whole story -- does the nitrogen oxide created during a lightning storm really cause your lawn to look greener?

JB: And the answer to that is probably no. Lightning produces nitrogen oxide -- but storm winds generally blow it thousands of kilometers away. What's more, it can take days for the nitrogen oxide created in a lightning storm to wash down to the ground. Nitrogen oxide produced in a storm does add nutrients to the soil -- but only much later and in places far from where the storm took place.

DB: So if your grass looks greener after a thunderstorm, you might want to consider a different explanation. It might be because of the extra rain -- and the quick return of sunshine. That's our show for today. Thanks for joining us.
I asked Caravan Palace the same question---I just had to---and here is what they had to say:

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