Striking Odds: Can You Be Struck Twice?
But what are the odds of being struck twice? Statistics say it is one in 9 million. In Craftsbury, Vt., dairy farmer Marvin Ryan, 65, beat the odds and was clearly struck twice while working on his farm. “We were milking cows in the barn at 9 a.m. and the fork lightning hit down in the swamp, coming up through the water line,” he explained of the first incident 30 years ago. Watching two cows succumb, Ryan rushed to unhook their chains when they appeared to be choking. Because of the current’s ferocity his hands were welded to the chains, frantic efforts to withdraw them and break the current ultimately resulting in his being thrown hard against the barn wall. With chronic, searing pain down his leg, Ryan eventually went to a chiropractor who straightened his spine, which he reported had acquired an “S” shape. Ryan also recalled that on the day of the incident he was unable to butcher the cows, who’d died from the strike, due to a tingling in his fingers and arm that precluded efficient handling of a knife. “The arm didn’t start waking up until 3 p.m. that afternoon,” he said.
The following year, Ryan was again struck while working on a plow in his garage. Because of their size, the plows were half in and half out of the structure, as Ryan described things, though he was well inside. Thrown from the top of one to the ground, Ryan said he was stunned and couldn’t determine what had happened for several minutes, later recalling he was hit before the sound of any thunder. “I used to be the one that liked to stay out and watch storms,” he admitted, “but after all this, I kind of go and hide.”
Also struck twice, East Vassalboro, Me., horse farmer Paul “Rocky” Morneau, 55, said he’s had visions and insights of one kind or another since birth, prior to any connection with lightning, though the strikes have amplified his abilities. Describing the first occurrence in 2002, Morneau said, “I felt as though someone had cooked me from the inside out.” Remembering little except that he’d picked up a stainless steel pipe from the ground and heard a sizzling sound, Morneau said a friend working with him that day told him the sky had grown dark and things happened very quickly. With his memory only beginning to return four days later, Morneau said prior to that he couldn’t recall even names of friends. In August of 2009, consciously avoiding the outdoors during even the promise of bad weather, the good samaritan farmer nevertheless escorted a horse and her brand new foal back into the barn under a threatening sky. With one foot in the building and one out, he recalled the entire structure “lit right up, and (he) was struck again.” This time, the current’s intensity cracked Morneau’s glasses and teeth, and blew a hole through his shirt. Again he lost his memory and said a worker in the yard at the time described him as “frozen like a mummy or a soldier.” Though he reports enhanced visions and insights, Morneau suffers residual effects such as an inability to regulate his body temperature. Standing too close to computers or wearing a watch, he said, are both impossible, claiming he retains current from the strikes which compromises technology. Ben, bolts and the beach Throughout history, lightning has famously struck such objects as the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Its effects triggered the invention of the lightning rod by electricity entrepreneur Ben Franklin, though diverting it from living things remains enigmatic at best.
According to experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), no place is safe outside in a thunderstorm. Lightning travels along the ground, through water, trees, plumbing and other pipes, electrical equipment and cords, concrete, utility poles, towers, fences and more. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you, and remaining indoors at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap is strongly recommended. Contrary to popular discourse, lightning can and has struck twice in the same place, documented by NASA and other entities. “At a beach, pool or anywhere, I leave immediately,” said Anna West, who was struck with her husband on the Pennsylvania porch. “Where others insist on staying to see if a storm will really develop, I know you just have to get out of there.”
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