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\nThe day before the Fourth of July, I was at a small backyard pool, swimming with friends and enjoying a summer vibe. The pool was in an idyllic, woodsy area surrounded on two sides by a crowd of thirty-to-fifty-foot tall trees.
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\nAs it got to be early afternoon, a storm rolled in. We started to hear thunder, but saw no lightning, and there was no rain.
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The thunder got closer, it got darker, and everyone got out of the pool.

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But then it got more distant, and the clouds seemed to roll away.

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Two people got back in the pool. They waded in to their stomachs, a few feet apart from each other.

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Of course, then, a bolt of lightning screamed down and struck the water directly between them.

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Both of them, unharmed, ran out of the pool, and everyone barreled inside the house.

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\n The average number of people killed by lightning each year in the U.S. In India, this number is more like 1,000 per year. \n
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\nBoth described feeling a sensation at the time the lightning hit. Neither was hurt, though of course their personalities were switched. But the bigger question was:
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How could lightning have reached down past the trees, past either of the people, to strike the water?

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\nThere are many obvious answers to this question such as “there was a thunderstorm going on” and “nature is dangerous and unpredictable and it is the folly of humans to think anything is worth the risk.”
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\nBut just to make sure, I got in touch with lightning expert Bob Holzworth, Ph.D, director of the World Wide Lightning Location Network and a professor at the University of Washington, to ask what might have caused this sequence of events. He said...
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As for the trees specifically, he said...

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“Lightning can strike as far as six miles from the edge of a storm.”

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\n Bob Holz, Ph. D, Director of the World Wide Lightning Location Network\n
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\nFair. But now that we had all dumbly and needlessly endured the risk and got this data point, I still wanted to know what it meant. Did the two persons’ positioning in the pool influence where the lightning struck? Holz replied,
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So, I said, you are maybe saying, the lightning would have been more likely to strike a single person...

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if the other person hadn’t been there?\n
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\nHe said...

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But if all things WERE equal...

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My friends might have saved each other from getting struck by lightning?

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Perhaps.

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Perhaps.

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The Future

28 cards

Did my two friends save each other from getting struck by lightning?

An investigation.
By Casey Johnston

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