Questions for Where will lightning strike?

National Weather Service/F. Smith


Before reading

1.    In what kinds of weather conditions would you expect lightning to occur? In what kinds of conditions do you think you would be safe from lightning?

2.    Why do you think that people get struck by lightning?

During reading

1.    What happened to Sean McQuilken on August 20, 1975?

2.    What is the chance that a person in the United States will be struck by lightning this year?

3.    Name three ancient gods that have been associated with lightning.

4.    What happens when an uncharged object loses an electron? What happens when it gains an electron?

5.    Someone whose hair is standing on end looks funny — but this is a sign that what might happen?

6.   Scientists think that lightning might be sparked by what two ways? How fast does a lightning leader travel? What about the return stroke?

8.    Why do scientists consider lightning to be the pulse of a storm?

9.    People performing what activity are the most vulnerable to being struck by lightning?

10. What does meteorologist John Jensenius recommend you should do when you hear thunder — and why?

After reading

1.    One day soon, scientists may be able to figure out how lightning sparks and where it will strike. What might they do with that information?

2.    Why might people participating in outdoor sports be unusually susceptible to being struck by lightning? Which sports do you think might be more dangerous than others? Explain your reasoning.


1.    Lightning is associated with many ancient gods, including Zeus, Thor and Indra. With a partner, research one of those gods and find one story telling how that god used lightning’s power.