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. Well, 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 of New York for example, which gets hit about 25 times a year.

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

Here's a real buzz kill for you. 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?

Filed Under:  
Assigned 156 times


COMMENTS (203)
  • Charleechacha
    3/24/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    Since most people think that being struck by lightning or being eaten by a shark is just as likely as winning the million dollar lotary. After reading this passage,I'm learned that this could be false. lightning sticks the earth at about 50 times a second, and can struck hundreds of times in the same space. Knowing that lightning is very common in the US, I think that we should make more lighning proof materials, and place them around towns and homes. If more people die in the U.S. than hurricanes and storms combined, than we have a Cerritos problem.

  • janaw-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:31 p.m.

    Some things I learned in this article were that lightning strikes about 50 times a second. Also, that a guy got struck by lightning 7 times in his whole lifetime. One other thing I learned is that lightning kills more people in the U.S. than tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Lightning can strike as many as 2-300 times in one spot, maybe even more, such as the Empire State Building, which gets hit around 25 times a year.

  • weslyw-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:34 p.m.

    I learned that lightning can strike over a hundred times in the same place. The saying lightning never strikes the same place is a myth and more people are killed by lightning than a tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

  • emmaa-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:34 p.m.

    I learned that lightning can strike in the same spot more then once because i too thought it could only strike once also maybe we don't see it because it is so fast.

  • whitneys-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:34 p.m.

    Yes, lighting does strike twice in fact lighting is probably going to strike that spot many times. lighting kills more people every year than tornadoes and hurricanes. That's what I learned.

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

    I think this is a crazy question but that roy guy getting struck seven times is mind blowing to me i would think he would be dead by now but that guy must be pretty strong if he can with stand that many strikes i wonder what it feels like sometimes it probaly makes you go uncounsionesce for a while.

  • daltonb-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:41 p.m.

    I think it is very weird if you see lightning strike twice and cool I saw a thing on the news and this guy got stuck by lightning and got up and about 12 feet later he got struck again.

  • kelbyd-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:42 p.m.

    it is far away when the lightning strikes so we cant see it all the time. That is why we don't always see the lightning when it strikes.

  • austinme-And
    3/24/2015 - 03:44 p.m.

    I think that lighting does not strike twice because lightning is light it can not strike twice, Yes I have thought about this before. yes I wish we could figure out to see if it dose strike twice

  • Makiyap1025
    3/24/2015 - 03:53 p.m.

    Wow, would've never guessed that. The empire state building must be a common target for lightning. it makes me wonder, where does lighting strike the most in the United Sates and what states have the most thunderstorms?

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT