Objects struck by lightning experience heat and magnetic forces of great magnitude. The heat created by lightning currents traveling through a tree may vaporize its sap, causing a steam explosion that bursts the trunk. As lightning travels through sandy soil, the soil surrounding the plasma channel may melt, forming tubular structures called fulgurites.
Although 90 percent of people struck by lightning survive, humans or animals struck by lightning may suffer severe injury due to internal organ and nervous system damage. Buildings or tall structures hit by lightning may be damaged as the lightning seeks unintended paths to ground. By safely conducting a lightning strike to ground, a lightning protection system can greatly reduce the probability of severe property damage. Lightning also serves an important role in the nitrogen cycle by oxidizing diatomic nitrogen in the air into nitrates which are deposited by rain and can fertilize the growth of plants and other organisms.
Due to their metallic fuselages, aircraft are highly susceptible to lightning strikes, though it does not cause much harm to the aircraft or its passengers, aside from a small hole in the wings. Due to the conductive properties of Aluminium alloy, the fuselage acts as a Faraday cage.