Does lightning ever strike twice in the same place?

Lightning can and often does strike in the same place twice. Since lightning bolts head for the highest and most conductive point, that point often receives multiple strikes of lightning in the course of a storm—so stay away from something that has already been struck by lightning! Tall buildings (such as the Empire State Building) often receive numerous lightning strikes during a storm.

Can a lightning stroke cause you to burst into flames?

No, being hit by lightning will not make you combust, but it can leave burn marks or singe clothing.

Can lightning travel through the ground?

Yes. When lightning reaches the ground, the electrical energy can travel through the ground from some distance away. If you are standing nearby, the energy can then enter through your feet. This is also how multiple people or animals can be injured by a single lightning bolt.

Why does lightning flicker?

Once the path is established through which the electricity of the lightning will flow, the same path will be followed for a number of milliseconds before it breaks down. Several strokes of lightning—each lasting millionths of a second—will be interspersed with brief pauses lasting for periods of time just as short. The result is a flickering effect.

How did lightning cost New York City a billion dollars?

A lightning stroke took out a major New York City power line in July 1977, resulting in a blackout that lasted for an entire day. The looting and losses to businesses, in addition to the repairs needed, were estimated to cost the city about one billion dollars.

What is a fulgurite?

When lightning strikes sandy soil, the soil melts into a glassy stone called a fulgurite. These stones can appear branch- or rootlike, almost as if the bolt of lightning has been fossilized or petrified somehow. The glassy material in the fulgurite is known as lechatelierite, a substance that can also be formed by meteors striking the ground. One of the largest fulgurites ever found is housed at Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History and is about 13 feet (4 meters) in length.

What are some benefits of lightning?

One of the biggest benefits of lightning, believe it or not, is that it causes fires. We usually see fires as a bad thing that destroy plants and property. Lightning starts about 12 percent of all forest fires in the United States, with over 60 percent of these in the Rocky Mountains area and fewer than two percent in the East; most lightning-started fires burn fewer than 10 acres of growth. But botanists and other scientists have long known that fires are beneficial to keeping forests and grasslands healthy. Many plants, indeed, drop seeds that can only germinate after they have been burned, and fires clear away old growth and allow new plants to thrive.

Another benefit to both plants and animals is that lightning strokes convert gaseous nitrogen (N2) into nitrates (NO3) by adding energy to the air, which causes nitrogen atoms to bond with oxygen. Nitrates are a vital part of the food chain; plants need them to survive, and animals get them by eating plants or other animals that eat plants. About half the world's naturally occurring nitrates are created by lightning (the other half is generated by bacteria living inside plants such as legumes). Scientists estimate that 200 billion pounds (91 billion kilograms) of nitrates are created every year through the action of lightning. In other words, without lightning, plant and animal life on Earth would be severely depleted.

Is it true that being hit by lightning can have health benefits?

There have been some documented cases where people who were legally blind were hit by lightning and, indeed, found out afterwards that they had regained their

Lightning doesn't always strike the ground; sometimes bolts shoot from cloud to cloud, instead.

Lightning doesn't always strike the ground; sometimes bolts shoot from cloud to cloud, instead.

vision. There are also a few cases where victims of lightning bolts found out that they did better on intelligence tests afterwards. Indeed, some have even claimed that they have gained psychic abilities.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >