Chinese Mobile Phones Attracting Lightning Story Strikes Again

from the details-please...? dept

About a year ago, we pointed to a story about people in China being struck by lightning on the Great Wall, where local officials were blaming the fact that they were using mobile phones. However, some quick additional research turned up that similar “hoaxes” had been flooding the internet for some time, and various experts pointed out that there was little in a mobile phone that would make it a target for lightning. In fact, many recommend that you use a mobile phone instead of a regular phone in a thunderstorm, as it’s likely to be safer. However, that hasn’t stopped the story from showing up again. links to yet another story in China about a man at the Great Wall who was struck by lightning — and again, his mobile phone is blamed. However, once again, the details are quite sketchy. The victim in question is never named. Also, why is it that this only seems to happen at the Great Wall? Isn’t a much more likely explanation that standing on top of the Great Wall in a thunderstorm means that you’re one of the highest objects around and therefore that much more likely to be struck by lightning in a storm?

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Comments on “Chinese Mobile Phones Attracting Lightning Story Strikes Again”

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Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

No Subject Given

I’d still leave room for the possibility that there aren’t any mobile phone masts near the Great Wall, forcing the phones to emit the maximum amount of microwaves to maintain a connection; in a highly ionised atmosphere this *could* form a “trigger point” for a lightning strike. It’s just a possibility…

Mary says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

During a thunderstorm I was walking along a side street with a pharmacy. It had a large neon sign saying “pharmacy” in the window. Just as I was passing the neon sign I could feel energy from the sign going all around me and arcing up into the air. The next second there was a white light, a bang and then what felt like a few seconds of blanked out silent whiteness. Then it stopped. I looked around to see if anyone had noticed. I wasn’t hurt, the sign wasn’t hurt. No one seemed to be around, so I just carried on with my day.

Would you say that I was struck by lightning?

I’ve been searching for this answer on the net for awhile.

Thanks, Mary

Jeremy Brown says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

I’m no expert, but I’d say if you have to ask, then you were not the victim of a direct hit. But as I understand it, there are all kinds of secondary effects before during and, perhaps just after, the actual lightning strike.

You might have experienced the “ground current” effect that happens near a strike.

I believe what you experienced just before the actual strike was a phenomenon where the electrical potential between the ground (or the ground connection of the neon sign) and the clouds was building up and doing whatever it does to the air between to ‘attract’ the actual lightning strike. But fortunately for you there must have been a more favorable path to ground somewhere just next to you (a lamppost or something).

I would think just being that close to a strike would probably send all kinds of semi-dangerous electrical fields through you, but a direct strike would have left you in no doubt that you’d been directly hit.

This page is very informative:

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