Breakdown: Why lightning can strike the same place twice

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 12:26 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We have all likely heard the saying that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but that is not true - especially for tall structures.

Thanks to research there are ways to know what structures in the United States have been struck the most over the last five years.

Between 2005 and 2020 there have been some buildings that are just prone to lightning strikes. One of those is the tallest building in the U.S., One World Trade Center in New York City. It stands at 1,776 feet tall, and has been struck 189 times between 2015 and 2020. The Empire State Building gets hit too but not as often as One World Trade Center. Research found that in rare cases, Empire State Building and One World Trade have been struck at the exact same time.

Although, One World Trade is the tallest building in the US, it wasn’t the most struck building in our nation, that title goes to the Willis Tower in Chicago, which comes in at third for the tallest building in the U.S. for height. The skyscraper was hit by 250 lightning strikes between 2015 and 2020.

Why does it get more, well it is all about location. Chicago gets more lightning on average than New York City.

Another Tower of note that has seen its share of lightning strikes is Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta. Bank of America Plaza received 156 lightning strikes.

In Venezuela where Lake Maracaibo and Catatumbo River meet, lightning strikes16 to 14 times per minute 300 days out of the year. It is the most struck area on earth.

Fortunately, lightning arrestor technology has allowed electrical current from the lightning that strike buildings to be redistributed around the outside of the tower or structure. Many of these tall structures in the US have adapted this technology.

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