Is it possible during the same storm for lightning to hit the same place twice? Say hitting a large tree twice or within a reasonable area?

  • 1
    Actually, a single "stroke" of lightning is often composed of a number of pulses, so the question is kind of moot. However, as noted, certain high and/or conductive objects get hit constantly.
    – M. Werner
    Apr 20, 2011 at 0:34
  • 1
    I suspect that this is saying based on the law of probabilities. If p(the probability of an event occurring once) is small, then p^2(the probability of an event occurring twice) is even smaller. Of course, like all "laws" based on probability, it's certainly not infallible. (Like people living after falling 20 floors, which is very improbable but happens.) Out in the wild, where the environment is kind of uniform, the probability of lightning hidden some given spot is indeed small and this "law" will probably hold true(unless you wait for a million years or so). Out in cities, lightning rods h
    – apoorv020
    Apr 20, 2011 at 7:53
  • Lightning rods would be pretty useless if this was true... Mar 1, 2019 at 11:04
  • @JohnDvorak I think per storm is the important idea here
    – Andrey
    Mar 8, 2019 at 21:18

2 Answers 2


Unless the lightning destroys the object so there's nothing left to hit, there is no physical reason for lightning not to hit the same place twice. The Empire State Building is a nice example of this. Here is a video where it's hit thrice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKMdYbOfFzI

  • 1
    even if it destroys what it hits, it could still hit on the exact same geographic coordinates again :)
    – jwenting
    Apr 20, 2011 at 10:15
  • Sure. I just added this for fun :D
    – Lagerbaer
    Apr 20, 2011 at 13:55
  • No that's right ! For instance if the lighting destroys the Earth or if the lighting destroys the storm...
    – Rabskatran
    Apr 27, 2011 at 14:54
  • This should really be a comment...
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 28, 2011 at 14:50
  • 7
    My answer came before the other one with the many pictures; the question asks specifically about lightning hitting twice in the same storm, which the video link I provided demonstrates. Not sure why you think it should be a comment.
    – Lagerbaer
    Apr 28, 2011 at 16:22

Empire state building 1
(source: dailymail.co.uk)

Empire state building 2
(source: umwblogs.org)

Empire 3
(source: noaa.gov)

  • 6
    nice photos, but not technically a full answer unless you have timestamps for all photos (the different light conditions are some indication, but not conclusive as these can be created using filters) :)
    – jwenting
    Apr 20, 2011 at 8:22
  • 1
    @jwenting - I second that, nice pictures, but only a part answer, but still... nice pictures.
    – going
    Apr 20, 2011 at 9:49
  • 1
    @jwentig Notice also the different shape. Apr 20, 2011 at 13:12
  • 2
    Combine this with Lagerbear's answer, and we have a winner.
    – JasonR
    Apr 20, 2011 at 13:34
  • @JakubHampl that can be explained by different camera angles, possibly (haven't tried raytracing the combined lightning bolt to generate a 3D representation of its path through the atmosphere).
    – jwenting
    Oct 4, 2013 at 1:53

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