7 Most Incredible Skyscrapers Being Struck by Lightning

Image: Mark d’Andrea

The tallest building in the world being struck by lightning.

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With a deafening sound, the lightning bolt strikes the building’s antenna, while onlookers instinctively cover their ears and scramble for safety. Meanwhile, visitors inside the giant skyscraper are torn between grabbing their cameras and running for cover, shocked by the reality of being trapped within a building being struck by lightning…

Image: Ryan Pastorino

Lightning striking the skyscrapers of Chicago.

What exactly happens when lightning strikes a skyscraper? Let’s take the Empire State Building as an example. The iconic Art Deco tower – a veritable old-fashioned gentleman among today’s skyscrapers – was, according to some sources, designed as a giant lightning rod from the day it opened its doors in 1931. In fact, scientists from the American Institute of Electrical Engineers recorded every single one of the Empire State Building’s lightning strikes between 1934 and 1937 on film, in order to determine the speed with which lightning strikes (10,000 miles per second, apparently, although that figure is still open to debate). The recordings continued as, in the words of one weather blog, “scientists measured some of the very first oscillographic readings of lightning currents there using tethered balloons in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.”