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Lightning Never Strikes Twice

They say lightning Never Strikes Twice in the Same Place – is that right?

WRONG!

It can and does strike the same place repeatedly — especially if it’s a tall or isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit about 25 times per year.

Lightning is spectacular – from a distance – this force of nature discharging electric current to the tallest object around.

Old School Rules to Avoid Lightning Strikes

  1. Don’t stand under a tree during an electrical storm.
  2. Seek cover if you are out in the open area – including a boat
  3. Never stand under an isolated tree on open ground.
  4. Don’t lay flat on an open field

These rules were drummed into baby-boomers – the kids of the 60s and 70s. We learnt them at school. They became part of the subconscious memory.

Summer Thunderstorms in Australia

beach storm

When a severe thunderstorm hit our area, recently, I was surprised that my millennial daughter had no knowledge of lightning safety from her school years. The curriculum has clearly changed.

Mind you, I recalled #4 incorrectly myself. I’d forgotten we were instructed to curl into a ball. Laying flat increases one’s risk of being hit, so it was a good thing that I hadn’t chosen the local footy ground for an outdoor meditation practice that stormy afternoon.

Tip for the Day: F Y I – you can be hit by lightning twice. And believe it or not, holding hands with another person, keeping your feet together or even standing on one leg can increase your chances of survival should you get up close and personal with a bolt of lightning.

Last month, the afternoon storm was a cracker.

A construction crane and a house nearby were both hit by lightning in the storm. The strike caused the crane’s boom to sizzle and triggered a ceiling fire in the house.

A friend who had placed a ceramic statue of an owl atop her roof, in order to deter nesting birds, had a mast on her house hit by a lightning bolt. They were away in New Zealand, and when they returned home, they found the lightning bolt had not only blown the head off the ceramic owl, it had blown half their household appliances.

Lightning Statistics

But what are the chances of being struck?

It seems your chances of winning lotto are higher than being hit by lightning.

Despite this, around 10 people are killed in Australia each year from a lightning strike and 100s are injured.

Lightning kills more than 20 people each year in the United States and injures hundreds more — with some survivors suffering lifelong neurological damage.

So if there is an electrical storm – take cover as per the old School Rules.

Did you learn these rules at school?

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77 thoughts on “Lightning Never Strikes Twice”

      1. It’s generally the only advice on the subject one hears, here. Yours was far more comprehensive, but then thunderstorms of any strength at all are rare here.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Even reading about lightening makes me feel uneasy! It really scares me and I need to be well sheltered during any lightening storm. A cellar or anywhere underground would be ideal! Your school rules are very familiar to me. There is no way I would venture out on an outdoor trip with no shelter if a chance of a thunderstorm had been forecast. You might imagine my response to those people (husband, for example) who say, “come and watch the lightening, it’s beautiful”. “It may well be but I’ll give it a miss thanks” I retort from my hideout. Guess I’m lucky we don’t have many bad storms here in NW England. Photo’s of it are ok but I remember an evening at the theatre some time ago. During the play a storm was brewing, later coming to a full force storm, so I didn’t really enjoy the play. The storm was fictitious and part of the play!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So helpful & informative post. A cellar or anywhere underground would be idea. Your school rules are very familiar to me.
      So useful you sharing for Lighting Never Strickes Twice.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Margaret, lightning viewed from a safe place like my balcony, I am okay with but I can relate to your comment. I just can’t watch those movies where the boats are out at sea in a terrible storm. I just can’t watch them. Period. They are like my worst nightmare, fictional or non-fictional. I guess the weather is too cool in New England for tropical thunderstorms. But – do you get winter storms instead?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are good did that period. How there weather. ? Where you live?
        I can’t get winter storm instead.
        Thanks,
        What’s your good name?

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  2. Lightning storms are scary. No doubt about it. Then again, lightning can also be enlightening. It was 7 years ago – our first evening after arriving at the beach. There was a massive lightning storm over the water, but far away. It lasted a long time while we sat on our balcony watching for a long time.

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    1. I guess being near the water increases the chance of seeing those lightning strikes and they are spectacular over the water, there is no doubt. Sometimes we are lucky and see a water spout as well. Have you seen any of those?

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  3. Yes, those were the rules I learned in school back in the 1960s. The older brother of my husband’s great-grandfather was killed by a lightning strike. This is what he wrote in his memoir: “One of my most vivid recollections of this period is the death by a stroke of lightning on July 20th, 1870, of my only brother, Elmer Alonzo. He was my father’s first born, and had grown up into a strong, lusty farmer. He and father were more like brothers than like father and son. He was very fond of his little brother, and used to romp with me and at times good naturedly teased me. To me, there was no one in the world like Elmer. After dinner, on the day of his death, as he was starting for the hay field, I begged him to take me with him, but, as a thunder storm was looming in the west, he told me I couldn’t go. He went alone to the hay field, cocked hay until the storm came up, and a bolt of lightning ended his activities forever. His body was not discovered until the next forenoon, all covered with hay. His untimely death was a terrible blow to the entire family.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh your story of your Great grand Uncle being struck by lightning is sad but it is amazing that you have an account of what it was like from the younger brother’s perspective. How lucky that he didn’t go out with his older brother. I imagine that it was a hard lesson for the family about the forces of nature.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Amanda, thank you for this informative post. Also, toss that golf club out of your hand. I have been in a couple of such storms while chasing that little white ball. Keith

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    1. Being out on the golf course is extremely risky in a storm, Keith. And I suppose that golf stick wouldn’t help matters. Best to be careful with such forces!

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    1. I imagine that the weather lessons are region-specific, Ally. Tornadoes while extremely rare here, do happen and one occurred in my area growing up. I can see remember seeing a thin strips of areas where the houses reduced to matchsticks – with the house next door completely untouched. Luckily we don’t have tornadoes regularly. Australian homes are built without any basements at all. So there is nowhere to shelter in the event of a tornado or a cyclone – which we do have. The cyclone that devastated Darwin on Christmas day in the 70’s taught us (then teenagers) to retreat to tape the windows and go to the bathroom or hide under a mattress when the cyclone hit….. and perhaps to pray as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know you can be struck by lightning more than once and have always had a very healthy respect of thunderstorms. I’m more afraid of lightning than probably anything else. We were never taught most of those rules. I appreciate having them from you now though I probably never go out if there is a possibility of lightning. I was walking my dog one afternoon and the clouds quickly rolled in with no rain. Lightning struck right behind us and all the hairs on my body stood up. I found out that day how fast the dog and I could run. She got home first. 🙂

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    1. Lightning and thunder can sure pack a punch when it comes to noise. No wonder many dogs don’t like it with their supersonic hearing. It is good that you ran for cover as fast as you could.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I liked that picture of swimming (or surfing) during a thunderstorm. I remember doing that. I don’t know whether it helps with the lightning risk, but at least you won’t get wet from the rain if you are underwater.

    I remember doing that at Scarborough beach (near Perth). If you are at the beach, and an summer thunderstorm shows up, you might as well continue your swim.

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    1. Yes, I don’t think I would be swimming in a thunderstorm. I don’t think it saves you either. There was footage of a tourist being hit by lightning in the water at Wollongong beach just a week or two ago. He had to be revived by paramedics – luckily his father saw him hit and dragged him from the water.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lightening storms are exciting to watch – if inside and safe! I knew most of these, Amanda and also that it is safe in a car as the tyres are rubber. I hope your friends didn’t have too much trouble sorting out their electrical problems afterwards. My mother on more than one occasion saw fireballs during lightning storms on the island where she was born. I am not sure if this is because of all the granite from the rocks but I’m glad I haven’t seen this (yet!)

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  8. In the Perth I grew up in, lightning was greatly feared and not much seen. I doubt the nuns were even aware there were lessons to be taught !!

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  9. Four times I have been in a building when it was struck by lightning, including my own home in Canberra (1984). It’s the loudest sound I have ever heard. People in the neighbourhood thought their home was struck, to which I would reply ‘but where’s my flue?’ We never found a bit of it.

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  10. We were taught not to stand under a tree during a lightening storm but I don’t think I was ever told I shouldn’t lie flat. Coincidentally this morning we were up a mountain in Bogota and there was a sign with these rules, including advice to adopt a foetal position.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The sign said storms were common from April to September, I think, and in the afternoons. We were there on a February morning 😀 I only noticed the sign when we were queuing for the cable car to go back down!

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    1. Thankfully, many of us know the rules but have not had to put them into practice. On very rare occasions, we have had to shelter under a tree when caught out in torrential rains and if it is summer, one never knows if there is a bit of electrical activity around or not. We must take more care to follow this advice to curl up.

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  11. It’s thundering here in Austin, Texas this morning. How ironic to read a poem about thunderstorms while sheltering from a thunderstorm! Nice pictures, Forestwood

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    1. Hey Silent Singer! Ironic indeed. Maybe it was some weird algorithmic synergy that sent you to my blog! Hope the storm passed without damage. We have a cyclone sitting off the coast atm.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We live in an area (East Anglia) where we don’t have many storms. But we are afraid when we are out on our boat and we have to pass a storm. We asked quite some sailors but nobody has ever heard of a boat that was hit by lightning. Do you know more about sailing and lightning?
    Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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        1. Hah! Frank, Funny you say ‘Sunshine State’ for Florida as that is the name of my state, (officially called Queensland), too! In the marketing promos they’ll often add, “beautiful one day, perfect the next.”
          We don’t have storms every other day, except in summer which does seem to last for 5 months of the year.
          Your climate in Florida sounds even more equatorial, akin to Singapore, where it rains every day like clockwork when the humidity tops out!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha too funny! Queensland sounds amazing. I hope to visit someday! I moved away from Florida several years ago and now reside in much colder New England but I still miss my daily rain shower. We even named one of my sons Rain! 🙂

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            1. I love that you named your son, Rain! It is a strong, individual name and I hope you do get to visit Australia one day. I suppose New England has less alligators as well as less rain/tropical storms? I do love the rain because it is a rather rare event here. We have almost finished our wet season and the grass was unusually brown, crisp and dry. Before Xmas, we had rain, but light rain in the evening. So unusual for us. Almost like a Scandinavian summer. Not the torrential downpours we are used to enduring in summer. The climate is strange everywhere, but I will always welcome the rain, unless it floods! Does Florida experience flooding events on an annual basis?

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Yvette, there must be a glitch with WordPress as your comment partly showed up on notifications but not on the post or on comments! All I could see of your comment was that you wondered why the stats are twice as high in the US as in….. ? Australia? I assume that is because of the population size?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that would mke sense – and sorry my other part of the comment was lost! weird

        but I said that even tho I know it is dangerous – you captured some of the beauty of lightening in your photo
        – and love that water !

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure you would be very familiar with thunderstorms Ju-Lyn, living in Singapore. It can be a bit scary when caught outside. Thank goodness it doesn’t often happen that we suffer from this sort of thing and in Singapore, there are lot of high rise buildings that might protect you?

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      1. Usually when it looks like rain, I try to run where I can easily duck into a building. But on this particular day, it didn’t look much like rain – it came fast & furious!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Your posts are very informative and I love your writing style it is so engaging and easygoing. Thank you for yet another lovely post.

    I appreciate you dropping by my blog. I have a weird sense of humour. Please bear with me. Or maybe just, please! I think for safety reasons it’s best to leave the bear 🐻 out of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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