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Posted by on Aug 27, 2016 in TellMeWhy |

Why Does Lightning Always Strike the Highest Object Around?

Why Does Lightning Always Strike the Highest Object Around?

Lightning is usually attracted to tall structures. Lightning is an electric spark that tries to bridge the air gap between the ground and a cloud. Lightning follows the path of least resistance, that is, the route that crosses the shortest air path.

For this reason, lightning usually strikes the highest object in its path. This object may be a city skyscraper, a tall tree or a lightning rod on top of a building. Lightning rods or specially wired television antennas lead the electricity safely to the ground and, thus, help to protect a building from lightning damage.

It makes sense that the tallest object is most attractive, because it is the easiest path for the lightning to take. In other words, lightning is ‘blind’ to the details of earth’s surface and doesn’t ‘make a decision’ on what it will strike until it has almost reached the ground. If something tall happens to be at that exact location, it may very well take the hit.

But if that tall object is just a little farther away, the lightning will just bypass it and hit the ground, or anything (or anyone) else that might be in the way!

Content for this question contributed by Linda Sander, resident of Arcadia, Carroll County, Iowa, USA