Can Lightning Strike The Same Place Or Person Twice?

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, April 6, 2009 | Published in

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OK, here's another one of my post on lightning again. What inspired me to blog about lightning? Well, the other day I was about to leave my house for an appointment in Bangsar when it suddenly rained heavily complete with thunder and lightning.

The lightning was really scary, I tell you. I could see thick flashes of lightning very near my house and I was worried about running out to my car which was parked beside the road outside my house.

I was thinking, should I risk my life dashing out of the house and into my car? Maybe I should just cancel the appointment. Which was more important - the appointment or my life?

Guess what? I chose the appointment! Haha!

What is living without some risk taking, yes? But it must be a calculated risk, of course. How did I weigh my risk? Well, I figured the safest time to dash out to my car was right after I see a flash of lightning. Because the chances of a second lightning strike would be minimal right after the first one!

Anyway, I got myself ready. The moment a huge lightning flashed in front of my house, I made a quick dash to my car, so quick, I think I could have beaten Olympic champion Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt! Once inside the car, I quickly closed the door and heaved a sigh of relief. If you don't already know, the car is one of the safest place to be in a thunderstorm.

Maybe some of you are thinking I was over-reacting. Well, if you think so, you probably do not know the dangers of lightning. Are you aware that the probability of being struck by lightning in Malaysia is higher than winning the lottery?

But what is the probability of lightning striking the same place or same spot twice? This is, in fact my topic for today's post. Nil? Zero?

Well, if you think lightning never strikes the same place twice, think again!

It has been reported that the Empire States Building in New York gets struck by lightning on the average of 100 times a year. I wonder how many times our Petronas Twin Towers in KLCC gets struck by lightning in a year?



The video above did not really show the lightning hitting the Petronas Twin Towers in my opinion. But this video below showed the lightning really hitting the KL Tower!

Even the back of my house was struck by lightning many times in a year, and sometimes twice within minutes in the same storm!


Photo courtesy of xmwallpapers.com

Storm observers will definitely tell you it's a myth that lightning never strikes the same place twice.

So if you know a certain place has been struck by lightning before, do be cautious and try not to go there when the next storm occurs! If you want to know how to protect yourself from lightning, read one of my previous posts here.

Lightning, despite being a dangerous natural phenomenon, is really a fascinating subject. I have always love the rain, and it's not too absurd to tell you that I love lightning as well. Provided I'm in a safe place of course.

If you are avid photographer, I hope you will take some good lightning photos and send to me! You may think I'm weird, but I actually love collecting lightning photos!

Now that you know lightning can strike the same place more than once, how about lightning striking the same person twice? Is that even possible?

Did you watch the interesting movie The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett? In the movie, there was an old man who claimed that he was struck by lightning 7 times and survived to tell the tale. (Actually the movie only showed him being struck 6 times or did I miscounted? Anyone can help me here?)



I had a good laugh during the movie, but on searching about survivors of lightning strikes online, I was amazed to find that there is in fact, a person in real life who was really struck by lightning 7 times! His name is Roy Sullivan. You can read about it here.

Since we are on the subject of lightning, do you know that you can calculate how far the lightning is from you?

Here's how.

We all know that light travels much faster than sound. So expect to see the lightning first before you hear the thunder. What you do is calculate the time taken for you to hear the thunder after you see the lightning. Then divide the number of seconds by 5 to calculate the distance in miles or by 3 to calculate distance in kilometres.

For example, if you counted that it took 6 seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder, then the lightning is 2 kilometres away from you.
(6 seconds divide by 3 equals 2 kilometres)

Pretty easy, isn't it? But that doesn't mean that if you calculated that the lightning is 10 kilometres away, you are safe. The reason is, lightning can strike within 16 kilometres or about 10 miles from a storm!

FIRST COMMENTER

(67) Comments

  1. GAGAY said...

    chop!

    April 6, 2009 at 1:05 AM
  2. GAGAY said...

    oh no! whatttaaaa success of stalking you foong!!!

    April 6, 2009 at 1:05 AM
  3. GAGAY said...

    yayks! been stalking you for months owredi..and it's just now that i made it! so LOL!

    April 6, 2009 at 1:05 AM
  4. GAGAY said...

    good enough that you weren't stroke by lightning..

    April 6, 2009 at 1:07 AM
  5. GAGAY said...

    mmmmm..be back here foong..need to finish mah MM..come chop..

    April 6, 2009 at 1:07 AM
  6. day-dreamer said...

    I don't see why lightning can't strike the same place/person twice. I mean, the lightning doesn't recognize a place/person right? haha.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:17 AM
  7. *Anton* said...

    Dashing to your car.... would be even riskier to be hit by an oncoming car than struck by lightning.

    +Ant+

    April 6, 2009 at 1:38 AM
  8. Cashmere said...

    Wow! The videos are really scary...
    About the KL Tower, I think there's prolly a lightning rod or something, which will help to prevent the lightning from going anywhere else.
    I think... not so sure about that..LOL!

    Oh btw, you're my guest blog of the week cos you were my top commenter in March. I'm displaying my top 4 commenters for one week.. :)

    April 6, 2009 at 6:03 AM
  9. lina said...

    Not taking any chances with the lightning, but I'll take my chances with lottery! LOL

    April 6, 2009 at 8:12 AM
  10. iamthewitch said...

    I just had the same frightening experience with lightning yesterday evening at Sepang F1 circuit! It was raining heavily and with thunderstorms and I had to walk out in the open to catch my ride back! I could SEE lightning strikes just in front of me. Scary!

    April 6, 2009 at 8:26 AM
  11. Mei Teng said...

    I read somewhere about a man who got struck by lightning at least 7 times. He must be attracting lightning! Not sure if he's still alive today though.

    April 6, 2009 at 8:45 AM
  12. -eiling- said...

    Thanks for the info dude. I'll make it a point to calculate the distance the next time I hear a thunder!

    April 6, 2009 at 8:59 AM
  13. Superman said...

    Yup. It happens as I read the news before somewhere.

    April 6, 2009 at 9:57 AM
  14. khengsiong said...

    Taking photos of lightning? It will be tough -_-"

    We do not know when it will strike. We do not know where it will strike...

    I think taking video is easier...

    April 6, 2009 at 10:29 AM
  15. HappySurfer said...

    Foong, I think being struck by lightning is quite like striking being FC here. LOL!

    That formula about calculating lightning distance is useful. Thanks.

    I have a friend who lost two tv sets damaged by lightning strikes. I mentioned that earlier in the other post I think. Both were in the same spot. They didn't stay back for the third strike - they emigrated overseas.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:05 PM
  16. Che-Cheh said...

    Definitely difficult to snap lightning photos. I've tried but failed miserably. Haha

    April 6, 2009 at 12:35 PM
  17. JL said...

    I can't imagine being struck by lightning and still surviving. For one thing, the air around the point of the lightning strike will rise so quickly that even if you are not directly blasted you'll still be seared by the heat from the expanding air! Scary.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:05 PM
  18. Merryn said...

    u r definitely too free to be calculating how far the lightning is from YOU! but do u know one thing? many ppl tend to put their satelite dish on the highest point of their house? dat is the easiest way for the dish to get strike by lightning.. next time, just place it somewhere open, no need too high, still can get reception, without the higher risk of lightning strike!

    April 6, 2009 at 1:17 PM
  19. Twilight Zone said...

    I agree that Empire State Building is prone to lighting strikes. I was inside looking at their World Guinness Records museum and there was a big hoo-hah saying that King Kong fell down after lightning struck. Those nerds were Japanese of course! I also thought our car is safest coz there's rubber tyres below. No meh?

    April 6, 2009 at 1:29 PM
  20. annant said...

    i think if anyone kena strike by lightning twice is really really suey...

    but he's lucky at da same time, to be survived from 1st lightning and kena strike again =.=|||

    no, i don't wanna be that lucky one...
    *touchy wood*

    April 6, 2009 at 1:31 PM
  21. Nick Phillips said...

    All this lightning talk is giving me the creeps cos it's raining now and there's lightning and thunder out my window. Maybe I should log off just to be safe :D

    April 6, 2009 at 1:57 PM
  22. foongpc said...

    gagay, finally get to be FC here! Congrats! I hope I can be FC at your blog too! : )

    day-dreamer, logically speaking, there's no reason why lightning can't strike the same place or person twice. But there's an old saying that lightning does not strike the same place twice. So, I'm writing this post to clear this myth : )

    anton, oh, I've calculated that risk too and it's zero, since my car was parked at the side of road nearest to my house and I did not need to cross the road. Haha! : )

    April 6, 2009 at 2:13 PM
  23. foongpc said...

    cashmere, yes the KL Tower does in fact have a lightning rod at the top, so does Petronas Twin Towers. I think all tall buildings have them. Thanks for making me your guest blogger of the week! : )

    lina, haha! That's wise, but chances of striking lottery is smaller : )

    iamthewitch, oh you went to Sepang yesterday? What a waste the race was cancelled due to heavy rain! Are you going to get any refunds or at least half refund? : )

    April 6, 2009 at 2:24 PM
  24. foongpc said...

    mei teng, I mentioned about that in my post. Go to the link to read more. Ironically, this man survived lightning strikes 7 times but died from suicide!

    eiling, haha! I think you better find a safe shelter instead of calculating how far the lightning is from you! : )

    superman, do you mean the place or the person?

    April 6, 2009 at 2:32 PM
  25. foongpc said...

    khengsiong, I know where and when it will strike. Just get your camera ready when it looks like it's going to rain : )

    happysurfer, lightning strike is like striking FC here? Haha! That's funny! Your friend is smart to move out of that lightning prone area : )

    che-cheh, yeah it's not easy. You need to have some kind of technique right?

    April 6, 2009 at 2:43 PM
  26. foongpc said...

    JL, yeah it's scary. But there are people who miraculously survive lightning strikes!

    merryn, is it true that the satellite dish always get struck by lightning?

    twilight zone, King Kong fell off the Empire Straits Building because of lightning strike? Haha! That's funny! : )
    The car is safe because the lightning will go over the metallic body of the car and earthed instead of travelling through the insides of the car.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:55 PM
  27. foongpc said...

    annant, haha! I'm sure you don't want to be that lucky one! : )

    nick phillips, maybe you should. hehe. But don't worry, the most you will suffer from a lightning strike in the safe comfort of your house or office is a fried computer : )

    April 6, 2009 at 3:05 PM
  28. jam said...

    You really like lightning, huh? BTW, did you read in the newspaper a father and his son were struck by lightning just a few days ago?

    April 6, 2009 at 3:17 PM
  29. kenwooi.com said...

    it has been raining very very heavily these days, lightings every now and then.. lol..

    well it actually depends on the location, i think the empire states building gets struck many times because there's a lightning conductor at the top of the tower? it kinda attracts the electricity.. although the main purpose of the conductor is to drain the electricity from the lightning to the ground..

    i hope im getting my facts right! lol correct me if necessary! thanks! =)

    April 6, 2009 at 3:19 PM
  30. Monica said...

    Foong, I tried to get some lightning shots but failed :-(

    April 6, 2009 at 3:45 PM
  31. HalfCrazy said...

    You're too brave to go outside and attend that appointment thing. I'll probably sleep through the rain, the lightning and thunder so when I wake up, everything would be over!

    Haha, got a great laugh out of The Curious Case as well. Seems like Roy Sullivan is the one in the movie. I think he was only able to tell his stories 4 or 5 times in the movie.

    April 6, 2009 at 6:24 PM
  32. Neo said...

    Wow, after reading this now we all become lightning experts! Oh, I prefer shooting lenglui than shooting lighting. haha

    April 6, 2009 at 6:30 PM
  33. EastCoastLife said...

    Must be either a bad person or very suay to be strike by lightning. :P

    April 6, 2009 at 6:39 PM
  34. EastCoastLife said...

    I'm scared of the loud clap of thunder. i seldom go out on rainy days.

    April 6, 2009 at 6:40 PM
  35. Grace said...

    That's crazy! Struck by lightning seven times?! That list about Roy Sullivan seriously sounds like a comedy script haha = =

    April 6, 2009 at 8:18 PM
  36. foongpc said...

    jam, no I didn't. Guessed I missed the news. But it's not surprising considering how ignorant people are about lightning prevention.

    kenwooi, I guess the lightning conductor would attract the lightning more but that's the purpose to prevent the lightning from striking the building. But that doesn't mean places without lightning conductors have any less lightnings : )

    monica, you tried? I guess it's not that easy. Wonder how those photographers capture lightning shots. Perhaps this or this will help.

    April 6, 2009 at 8:54 PM
  37. foongpc said...

    half crazy, I'm not brave, just don't want any lightning to stop me from going to that appointment! Haha! Oh, that man in the movie is actually playing Roy Sullivan? Didn't know that! : )

    neo, I know that. Haha! How about shooting leng lui with lightning in the background? LOL!

    eastcoastlife, better not go out during thunderstorms especially since Merlion was struck by lightning recently! : )

    grace, it does sound comical, so I seriously do not know if it's really the truth. Tell me what are the chances of someone being struck by lightning 7 times? : )

    April 6, 2009 at 9:00 PM
  38. Johnny Ong said...

    my maths very lousy, wrong calculation will mean extreme toast

    April 7, 2009 at 12:38 AM
  39. Ayie said...

    Very interesting foong! I learned so much about lighting with your post! haha

    I'll make it a project to do at least a photo capture of lighting then I'll send you the shot if I get lucky. it doesn't rain much or lightning occurence where i live now.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:01 AM
  40. suituapui

    It does strike twice or more at the same place. Gee! What have you got at the back of ur house that attracts lightning? A goldmine? LOL!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 7:55 AM
  41. HalfCrazy said...

    Oh I checked how many times the old man got to tell his story. 6 times! You're right LOL.

    No, I don't think the man in the movie is playing Roy Sullivan but maybe Mr. Daws' character (man struck by lightning in the movie) is based on him?

    April 7, 2009 at 8:52 AM
  42. Terra Shield said...

    Here's the deal... avoid being in an open field during thunderstorms. If you're in a place filled with tall buildings or people taller than you then you're lucky, cos they're likely to get struck first, because like everything else, the lightning takes the shortest way down, ie through the tallest/highest building plant.

    April 7, 2009 at 10:11 AM
  43. molly said...

    The chances of being strike by lightning twice or more is possible. Lightning usually stike in the same area again and again. A contractor told me that when I checked with him about my house and my neighbour's electricity which tripped too often during thunder storm.

    April 7, 2009 at 10:45 AM
  44. Medie007 said...

    very hard to take lightning photos lor....

    and yeah, benjamin button movie, that guy only struck 6 times

    April 7, 2009 at 11:43 AM
  45. heidi said...

    wow! This is fascinating! I never knew how to calculate lightening. Need to do it next time we get a storm.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:40 PM
  46. iWalk said...

    There are always some people die because of lightning and thunder in my city every year.

    So we can't be so lucky as benjamin button. :P

    April 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM
  47. Life Ramblings said...

    i'm not a risk taker. besides, my calculation is poor and i might ended up being fried by the lightning strike.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:32 PM
  48. levian said...

    wow, strike by lightning that often? my house is located at a higher ground, but luckily there is the transmission tower much taller than all the houses nearby. i think it took most of the hit for us. :)

    April 7, 2009 at 1:55 PM
  49. Shinky said...

    I read before somewhere in an old Malay Reader Digest that there's also a person a local who had been shot by lightning. Funny is that, they mentioned the lightning only kill him on the 7th attacked. Yes I really meant "ATTACKED".

    April 7, 2009 at 2:45 PM
  50. Vestige said...

    Lightning to strike at a same place, hmm, not really that hard if the place's on a highland :)

    April 7, 2009 at 4:22 PM
  51. GAGAY said...

    off course foong!got two blogs, FCC members-both, so can chop anytime there..do u have twitter lah!?!? u can stalk me there so can chop!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 7:18 PM
  52. foongpc said...

    johnny ong, then I think you better run for shelter instead of counting how far the lightning is from you! Haha!

    ayie, really? I will be waiting for your photos! : )

    suituapui, I wish!! : )

    April 8, 2009 at 12:01 AM
  53. foongpc said...

    halfcrazy, so confirmed it's 6 times then! Thanks for checking! Probably the character is based on Roy Sullivan : )

    terra shield, thanks for the info : )

    molly, thanks for confirming that lightning does strike twice or more at the same spot : )

    April 8, 2009 at 12:05 AM
  54. vialentino said...

    bro...the thai food....no menu for 5 pax...but if all 5 males and got 3 big eaters...shud be able to finish it...hehehe

    April 8, 2009 at 12:07 AM
  55. foongpc said...

    medie007, yes I guess it's not easy to take lightning photos. Thanks for confirming about the old man in the movie being struck 6 times. Actually it's 7 times, but he only talked about 6 out of the 7 times he was struck : )

    heidi, glad you learn something here! : )

    iwalk, yes a lot of people are killed by lightning yearly, but to survive 7 times is unbelievable! : )

    April 8, 2009 at 12:10 AM
  56. foongpc said...

    life ramblings, haha! Better not take risk then : )

    levian, thanks to that transmission tower yes? : )

    shinky, really? A local "attacked" 7 times by lightning? First time I heard of this!

    April 8, 2009 at 12:14 AM
  57. foongpc said...

    vestige, yes logically, there's no reason why a lightning should not strike the same place twice or more.

    gagay, haha! Thanks but I don't do Twitter at the moment. Will try my luck again to chop your blog! : )

    vialentino, thanks bro! : )

    April 8, 2009 at 12:16 AM
  58. Ayie said...

    Wish me luck then! You actually gave me idea, I never had any lightning shot. Seriously, if ever I get to have one, I'll send you.

    April 8, 2009 at 2:39 AM
  59. Tekkaus said...

    Hahaha :D When I recalled the movie, it was so darn funny! But little did I know that such person is indeed exist! He must be one of the X-men huh!

    April 8, 2009 at 3:35 AM
  60. Tekkaus said...

    Hahaha :D When I recalled the movie, it was so darn funny! But little did I know that such person is indeed exist! He must be one of the X-men huh!

    April 8, 2009 at 3:36 AM
  61. Tekkaus said...

    By the way...lady gagay is so into you huh? Muahaha =D Lucky you foong.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:37 AM
  62. Perky said...

    Thank god i'm short. That means higher chance of other ppl getting strike 1st before the lightning strikes me! ;P lolz!

    April 8, 2009 at 3:34 PM
  63. foongpc said...

    ayie, thanks, I hope there will be more lightning at your place, so more chances for you to take shots! : )

    tekkaus, yeah, I was surprised by the existence of such a person! I really thought it's just a joke!

    Lady Gaga or Lady Gagay? Haha! No, she's not into me, just stalking me so she can be FC! I hope I can have the time to stalk her too! : )

    If you have FC in your blog, I will stalk you too! Haha!

    perky, it does not necessarily work like that you know : )

    April 8, 2009 at 10:24 PM
  64. Ayie said...

    hehehe, as long as it doen't hit me!

    April 8, 2009 at 11:47 PM
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