Weather Whys from Texas A&M Geosciences Center

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 nearly 100 times on average each year, often several times in the same day. The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) in Chicago and Cape Canaveral in Florida also get hit by lightning dozens of times each year. In general, any 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.”


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