17

There's a widespread belief among most of the people I know that all windows should be closed during a storm as having them open is supposed to attract lightning (or, according to some people, can allow the lightning to 'strike inside').

I'm highly sceptic about all this and Googling for those risks was unsuccessful. Does anyone have any light to shed on the matter?

  • 6
    Are you sure the belief is about lightning? The reason I was always told was to protect the windows from being broken by the wind, or to protect the rain to rain into the window. – Suma Aug 29 '11 at 13:22
  • Yes, I am sure - also, the reasons you've given are totally plausible, while the lightning theory is strange enough to make me wonder.. – Gregor Aug 29 '11 at 13:31
  • 3
    Can you please give some source to the claims where they try to explain why is that? – Daniel Iankov Aug 29 '11 at 20:24
  • 1
    The theory seems to be more prevalent with older people - my grandmother thought it true and my parents in law are certain it is true. They don't speak English very well so it would be hard for me to convince them to write their opinion here, but when I asked them to support their theory, they didn't have any real facts to give. I was actually a bit disappointed as my father-in-law is an engineer and I thought he would have some evidence to support his belief. – Gregor Aug 31 '11 at 6:04
  • 2
    I was always taught to close windows during a storm because it protects your belongings. During a storm the wind often builds up in strength, coming through the window can knock light items over, light items usually are breakable. Also the rain can come through the screen and land on your furniture, ruining wood and upholstery. Lightning ... I was always taught to turn off electrical ... computers (without protection), tvs (I believe that had to do with aerials) and to stay away from windows. J – user36286 Oct 17 '16 at 19:50
13

No, open windows do not increase the chance of lightning striking a house--however it DOES allow lightning to more easily strike an object inside the house.

From a USAToday chat transcript with John Jensenius, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service and expert on lightning safety:

Warren, Ohio: They say don't stand near a window when it's lightning outside. Does it make a difference whether the window is open or closed? Can lightning go through the glass? Isn't glass an insulator?

John Jensenius: It's better to be a few feet away from windows and doors. Glass is an insulator, but so is air. You're probably a little better off with the window closed, but it's more important to put a couple feet of air between you and the window. Both windows and doors can be made of or contain metal, so the glass may not make much difference. I know of several incidents of people being struck with their hand on the doorknob while peering outside at the storm.

Although there is always a chance that lightning travels through the closed window, with lightning strikes you are always playing in the realm of probabilities and the best thing you can do is keep your body out of the potential path of any nearby lightning strikes. You could be injured by shards of glass from a shattering window but it is preferable to being part of a closed circuit between a thundercloud and the earth.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .