Mythbusters: can lightning strike the same place twice?

Jordan Oloman sets out to investigate the common old wives’ tale.

24th October 2016

Natural weather disasters really suck, don’t they? Whether it’s a hurricane or a flood, the way the earth displays its adolescent tantrums is pretty obnoxious. The only way they’re made worse is through an abundance of them, maybe when the moon tears up his tentative card on Valentine’s Day. Ridiculous analogies aside, today I’m going to examine a weather-based doozie that you’ve probably heard yourself.

“Lightning never strikes twice” is probably something you’ve heard from a parent when you’re shit out of luck. Dropped your phone in the toilet? “LNST”. It might make you feel a bit better, but I’m just about to shatter that warm mug of cocoa and bring you into the real world. Lightning actually doesn’t care about your feelings, and it loves to strike the same place plenty of times.

As if university isn’t already putting a sledgehammer through the rose-tinted drywall that is your life, most of the idioms you heard in your childhood were cold lies. But don’t hold it against your parents; hold it against our good friends Adam Savage and his walrus mustached compadrio, Jamie Hyneman. The mythbusters covered this a long time ago on their show, and it was such a throwaway gig that they declared it a ‘minimyth’ and it barely got screen time. Despite the fact it would be a great risk to their often put-at-risk lives, they just used a clip from Dan Robinson, a professional storm chaser (holy cow what a job) who recorded the Sears Tower in Chicago getting blasted twice during a storm. He recorded it way back in 2006, but a short crawl to his website gives you a vignette of documented proof.

Dan has a compilation of a TV tower in St Albans getting tased over 50 times, as well as a very unlucky set of skyscrapers who took a 17 shot pummelling in one night, which would be pretty rough if they had the cognizant ability to feel. Basically, if you’re over 1000 feet tall and made of metal, you should be really worried about this article, but I don’t think The Courier demographic extends to alternate dimensions, really. If you are, and you feel upset about the fact that Dan has been collecting video footage of your kind being tortured, you can take it up with him. I’m just the messenger, alright?

As we conclude, just like in every article I ever write, I’d like to alert you to the story of Roy Sullivan. Roy was a park ranger who was struck by lightning SEVEN times. You do not need to adjust your tv, you are reading that right. This guy was a magnet, and somehow lived through all of them, with a few holes in his shoes to boot. You would think he’d change his career, but no. Unfortunately, his affinity to lightning made him lonely. Everyone was scared to be around him in case they got hit. So yeah, lightning does strike more than twice, and it makes people lonely. Lightning is mean.

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