ASK TOM: Lightning makes grass greener?

Dear Tom,
What is the science that explains why lightning makes our grass greener?
– Gary, Willowbrook

Dear Gary,

The greening of grass and other vegetation is a positive benefit of lightning.
Plants require nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous for good growth. Nitrogen is used in the greatest quantity and must be constantly replenished.

It is estimated that global thunderstorms produce up to 175 billion pounds of nitrogen annually.

A lightning strike generates tremendous heat (50,000+ degrees F), “fixing” or combining normally inert atmospheric nitrogen with oxygen, which then combines with rainwater to form dilute nitric acid.
When this falls to Earth, it combines with other soil minerals, yielding plant-fertilizing nitrates.