Verifying Myths About Lightning

Verify: Lightning Fact or Fiction

When you see lightning, don't take a chance. Get inside and let it clear out of the area.

It's bright. It's powerful. It's dangerous. But you can't believe everything you hear about nature's fireworks.

2 Wants to Know verified what's true and what isn't when it comes to lightning.

ReadFacts About Lightning That Could Save Your Life

To verify the facts and fiction, we went to our weather expert, Chief Meteorologist Tim Buckley. Our first target: heat lightning.

"Heat lightning is one of the biggest myths we have in summertime weather,” said Buckley.

Many people think heat lightning is lightning without thunder, but that's not the case.

"What it really is, is distant lightning,” said Buckley. “It's thunderstorms that are far away, usually 50 to 60 miles from where you're standing. You can still see the lightning but the sound of that thunder just can't travel so far, so it's silent."

So the next time you hear someone say they've seen heat lightning, you can verify this is false.

Up next, the idea that lightning doesn't strike the same place twice.

"There is just nothing true about that myth,” said Buckley.

Tim says lightning can hit the same spot as often as it wants to. It usually strikes the tallest thing in an area. Think of a tall tree or TV tower.

"These things get struck by lightning not just a couple times a year, sometimes hundreds of times per year", said Buckley.

So that was easy. We can verify lightning can strike the same place twice, making this old wives tale false.

A lightning rod is the focus of our final verify. It's a pretty basic idea. You install it on your roof with the idea that lightning will hit it instead of your house. But it has to be installed and connected by wire to a ground rod.

"It follows that metal path, goes right down into the ground that way it can't hurt your house,” said Buckley.

But is it worth it? A complete install of a lightning rod system can cost up to $2,500. Whether it's worth the risk is for you to decide.

"A lightning rod can be a really cheap and easy way to help avoid a catastrophe with a big fire on your roof,” said Buckley. "To me, if you're out in an exposed area, a lightning rod is definitely worth it."

So we can verify a lightning rod is worth the money, even if just for peace of mind.

Copyright 2017 WFMY


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