A video gaining quite a bit of popularity in the past week depicts a man getting struck by lightning not once, but twice before getting back up and walking away. But was this incident the result of a severe and anomalous weather pattern? Or was the man who got struck by lightning and subsequently got up the result of something else? The video itself is under as much scrutiny as the incident.
The video begins just as the weather is turning bad. Pedestrians can be seen running by clutching umbrellas and newspapers, attempting to find refuge from the sudden onslaught of rain. And then just as it looks like the last of the pedestrians may have reached the safety of cover (or at least left the area) one final man comes running out and darts into the path. And just then he is caught in mid stride by a brilliant flash of light and he collapses forward onto the ground. Moments pass and it’s clear he’s taken quite an injury, but then he gets up and keeps walking – almost as if to shrug off the lightning strike. Then there’s another brilliant flash and he once again tumbles to the ground. After that he sits at the side of the road for a bit, then gets up and walks off. But could someone have really survived such an incident? And what are the odds of such an occurrence taking place?
The answer to whether a human being could theoretically survive multiple lightning strikes is yes. Lightning strikes have a high hit to kill ratio, and are particularly difficult for medical professionals to treat as the burns are often unpredictable in where they are. Nonetheless, people survive lightning strikes often with a fatality rate being reduced over the years to approximating between 10% and 23% of severe cases. Of course the effects of multiple lightning strikes is still fairly unpredictable.
But what about the chances of being struck by lightning at all? The chances of a lightning strike occurring are variable and generally difficult to pinpoint by means other than by strike to population ratios. In reality, these probabilities change significantly from one area to the next and according to the weather. For example, statistics indicate you have a 1 in 700,000 chance of getting struck by lightning in a given year. Of course it’s going to be far higher if you were to take up rooftop kite flying in the Midwest during the second half of April.
So is it real? One of the key indicators that this might have been faked is the fact that the lightning does not in fact light up the shadows coming from the nearby vehicles. Pause at one of the two frames where the lightning strikes and you’ll notice that the entire frame is lightened while the shadows still remain consistent, suggesting the light source was not a real object within the film. Once we establish that was faked, suddenly it becomes apparent why the lightning itself remains for only one frame and doesn’t burn itself into the image – lingering as a reminder to the extreme heat and light. While it is certainly possible, and stranger things have happened this season in relation to the weather, this is a mere fake.