Does lightning ever strike twice? (Thinkstock)
Does lightning ever strike twice?
Lexile

You asked us, does lightning ever strike twice?

The old saying lightning never strikes twice is supposed to be reassuring because after all, you had this one stroke of really bad, bizarre luck. But that means the odds of it ever happening again must be zero, right?

Wrong, very, very wrong.

Lightning strikes the Earth about 50 times a second and lightning can strike twice or even thrice or hundreds of times in the same place, like the Empire State Building for example, which gets hit about 25 times a year.

And as for people, just be really glad you're not Roy Sullivan, a park ranger at Shenandoah National Park who was struck by lightning seven times in his lifetime.

In the US, more people are killed by lightning than tornadoes and hurricanes put together. Seriously.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: If lightning strikes the earth many times per second, why don't we see lightning more often?

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COMMENTS (61)
  • trustina-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:28 p.m.

    I learnd that lightning kills more people than hurricanes and tornadoes combined in a year that's is a lot of people to be killed by a 1-10 in rod a year.

  • tylerha-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:35 p.m.

    The reason why we see lightning strike twice in one spot but not more often is that there needs to be enough electrical buildup in the clouds in order for it to discharge and the clouds need to be big enough.

  • tateo-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:36 p.m.

    We never see lightning more often because lightning can strike at many different locations. Lightning may strike in the ocean which nobody can see. That is why we don't see lightning more often.

  • DamienQ-Kut
    3/24/2015 - 05:31 p.m.

    I think the video was very funny. But I never heard the saying "lightning never strikes twice" I thought that was true when it said that lightning never strike in the same place twice but when I read it and saw the video I was very surprised that it does hit the same place twice and when I was watching he video the person said "that lightning hits the empire state building 25 times a year. I really enjoin reading and watching the video.

  • CapeleyZ-1
    3/24/2015 - 05:59 p.m.

    This story was about whether or not lightning strikes twice. Apparently lightning definitely can strike more than once. We have been led to believe that the chances of being struck by lighting twice is zero but that is not true. fifty strikes of lightning hit the earth each second. The empire state building has been hit seven times. I never did believe that this is true because the odds arent right.

  • SH2000
    3/25/2015 - 08:47 a.m.

    If lightening strikes the earth many times per second, we ddont see it because of how fast it strikes. Our eyes dont focus that fast when it comes down to lightening, It like the light is having a whip lash where we can't see it move or strike that quickly.

  • rm00pennie
    3/25/2015 - 01:00 p.m.

    even though lightning strickes so many times we cant see it becasue they light is too bright for human eyes to see. we can only see the bolts of lightning that is full of electricity and the others we just cant

  • TF000Music
    3/25/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    If you think about it, Lightning dosen't always strike at night. It can sometimes strike in the morning or just during the day in general. Sometimes, we can't see lightning because its too fast for us to see,

  • 9tylork
    3/25/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    yes it can strike twice because i have seen it happen in real life and in a video and this guy got struck two times in a row.

  • pp2000boa
    3/25/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    I think lightning is rare and interesting to see. These facts aren't new, but I never heard this saying before, whenever there is a thunderstorm outside, I see lightning flashes happen one after another, so it's not surprising to know, but I wish they came more often.

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