Can Lightning Strike the Same Place Twice?

Contrary to popular belief, lightning can strike the same place twice. In fact, according to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it does so frequently, and the chances of being hit by lightning are about 45 percent higher than most people think. The Empire State Building in New York is struck more than 20 times a year. The record-holder for being struck by lightning the most times is Roy Sullivan, a former park ranger in the Shenandoah National Park, who was struck by lightning seven times during the course of 35 years and survived each time.

More facts about lightning:

  • Lightning is one of the deadliest weather-related killers in the U.S., killing about 90 people and injuring about 300 every year. About 3,700 people died as a result of lightning strikes in the U.S. between 1959 and 2003. The only weather phenomena more deadly than lighting in the U.S. are extreme heat and flooding.

  • Though most people tend to think of lighting as striking in only one place at a time, that's a misconception as well. In fact, lightning strikes in more than one place about one-third of the time.

  • Lightning can heat the air around it to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (about 27,760 degrees Celsius) — that's about five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

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