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Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times — more than any other person

Saturday, June 25th 2022, 6:13 am - On this day in weather history, Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning for the seventh time.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


Roy Sullivan was born on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1912, in Greene County, Va. Sullivan was a United States park ranger in Shenandoah National Park. Between 1942 and 1977, he was struck by lightning on seven occasions.

Sullivan survived the seven strikes and was referred to as a "human lightning conductor." He's currently in the Guinness World Records under the category of most lightning strikes survived.

One lightning bolt is comprised of several 100 million volts. Over 80 years, the odds of being hit by lightning is around 1:10,000. The odds decrease quite dramatically when calculated to included seven strikes.

The mathematical odds don't really apply to Sullivan's situation because he was at a higher risk. He was more likely to get struck due to the nature of his work but also the location. Virginia gets on average 35 to 45 thunderstorm days per year.

Sullivan was first hit in April 1942. He took cover in a fire lookout tower during a thunderstorm. The tower didn't have a lightning rod and the building caught fire. He headed outside and was struck by lightning. The bolt burned a half-inch strip along his right leg and struck his toe, leaving a hole in his shoe.

Roy C. Sullivan Roy Sullivan. Courtesy of Wikipedia

He was then struck in July 1969 (lost eyebrows), July 1970, April 1972, August 1973, June 1976, and June 1977.

On Saturday, June 25, 1977, Sullivan was hit while out fishing. The lightning struck his head and set his hair on fire. The bold travelled through him and burnt his chest and stomach.

To learn more about Roy Sullivan and lightning strikes, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail: Courtesy of Pixabay

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