Weather Whys

Texas A&M University —

Q: Is it true that lightning never strikes twice in the same spot?

A:
That’s one of several big myths about lightning, says Brent McRoberts
of Texas A&M University. “Lightning often strikes the same location
multiple times,” he reports. “Just look at the Empire State Building,
which gets hit by lightning at least 50 times every year, often several
times in the same day. The Sears Tower and Cape Canaveral also get hit
by lightning several hundred times each year. In general, tall
structures, such as buildings or radio or TV transmission towers, are
almost certainly going to be hit by lightning.”

Q: What are some other lightning myths?
A:
Some people claim they are human “lightning rods” because they have
been hit several times, although no one has ever produced proof of this,
McRoberts adds.

“Another myth is that it’s good to seek
shelter under a tree during a storm. Again, they are tall objects and
more likely to be hit. Some people believe that others struck by
lightning shouldn’t be touched because they will get shocked. This is
totally untrue – people who have been hit need immediate help. Another
myth: being inside a house means you won’t get hit by lightning.
Although your chances are greatly reduced by being inside, there are
hundreds of cases of people being hit by lightning inside their homes,
often while talking on the telephone. It’s always a good idea to stay
off the phone during a thunderstorm. It’s also true that carrying an
umbrella increases your chances of being hit.”