For all of us on the Gulf Coast, lightning is nothing new. But many people have never seen a lightning trench as visually compelling as one we heard about at a local family cemetary.

This story first began after the Labor Day Weekend. The strike left behind the mysterious trench that has family members checking for any damage to their families graves.

©Alan Sealls, WKRG-TV
Lightning trench in West Mobile created when lightning struck tree, travelled down to ground and then horizonatally just below ground surface.

Mary Hilyer says the cemetary has been around since the 1800s. "My family is buried here. My Father, Great Grandfather, his brothers and sisters. I've been here since I was a little girl."

Hilyer heard about the lightning strike and wanted to check on her family. "I'm thankful it didn't do more damage than it did. It could have destroyed a lot of graves."

Here's what may have happened. Lightning hit one tree, traveled in a straight line away from that tree, and left a trench behind.

The size of the trench is about 25 yards long, and a half foot deep.

The trench branches out into three different lines, and one line hits a grave. The lightning made a hole toward the headstone, and punched another hole on the bottom end, knocking out a few chunks of concrete.

To help solve this mystery, I met up with a few meteorologists from the National Weather Service. Meteorologist Jeff Medlin is the Science Operation Officer and says he has heard about this before.

"It's all over the country, there are examples of these trenches, but I'm pretty surprised we haven't seen anything that spectacular before having been here, and with how much lightning we receive annually."

He also says there may be a few explanations...

"We direct current into the ground with a lightning rod, and once it gets into the ground, it finds its' way.

Other theories include steam, from lightning heating up ground water, tree roots, wiring in the ground, or a rare phenomenon known as ball lightning.

"It's just the electricity following a path of least resistance which is one more testament to the unpredictability to lightning."

We may never know what exactly caused this lightning trench, so the mystery continues for now.