Does lightning ever strike twice? (Thinkstock)
Does lightning ever strike twice?
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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)
  • L.E 1999 blue
    3/26/2015 - 08:47 a.m.

    People say that lightning cant strike twice because they have never ever saw it that's why. If all humans could See lightning strike twice than they wouldn't to say that lightning can't strike twice us as humans we don't have any proof of lightning striking twice. So that's why i think humans say that we think lightning can't strike twice.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    3/26/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    The Earth is huge. People die just as often but most of the time it doesn't affect more than a few people. Not everything that happens can be seen or felt worldwide.

  • rositap-Che
    3/26/2015 - 01:46 p.m.

    I thought lightning only stroke one time not 50 times. It strikes 50 times a second and that's pretty amazing. Imagine if it last minute how many strikes would that be?

  • fernandoc-Che
    3/26/2015 - 01:48 p.m.

    I think in terms of the old saying, that it does strike twice. Because like, you could be homeless more than once, you can have some type of surgery more than once, you could even die more than once ( depending on your beliefs ).

  • marcusr-Che
    3/26/2015 - 01:54 p.m.

    I didn't think lightning strikes twice due to the rumors going around but this article explains a lot like lightning strikes the earth 50 times a second

  • BRaymell-Cas
    3/26/2015 - 02:01 p.m.

    Well we don't get lightning storms because there are no thunder clouds. If you have evaporation condensation, transpiration and precipitation plus atom moving as fast it can. That'st how you get lighting

  • namelt-Che
    3/26/2015 - 02:05 p.m.

    Yes lighting strikes twice, and I say this because it doesn't just strike one time. In the United States , they have killings by lighting. The guy that was struck by lighting seven times in his life-time is lucky.

  • HSean-Cas
    3/26/2015 - 04:26 p.m.

    The reason we don't see lightning every time it hits the Earth is because we are looking from to for away. Or could mean the lightning isn't always as strong as it is when you see it.

  • jarredc-Koc
    3/26/2015 - 07:36 p.m.

    Lightning is both frightening and fascinating at the same time. Lightning can be quite deadly to those who are struck by it. Those that can survive it are not only lucky, they get a frightening story to tell people. Lightning is a powerful source of electricity and even greater source of entertainment. Lightning special effects have been used in movie special effects for several decades.

  • LTaylor-Cas
    3/27/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    I never really believed when they said lightning never strikes twice because there are many places in the world lightning can strike, but there are too many lightning storms every year for lightning not to have to strike the same place twice.

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