Lightning strikes the edge of the Grand Canyon, with the majestic “Indian Watchtower” (not actually built by Native Americans) in the foreground. When I saw this photo (via Reddit), I made this face:
It also took me on a curiosity journey: Lightning strikes Earth’s surface about 45 times every second. But not every spot on Earth is struck by lightning at the same frequency. Some places, like Antarctica, almost never see lightning. And some places, like a certain area of Democratic Republic of Congo, get almost 160 strikes per square kilometer every year. This area of Arizona gets about 10 strikes per square kilometer every year.
Let’s use a conservative guess for the age of the Grand Canyon at about 6 million years (although some controversial estimates have put its age at up to 17 million years. Or even 70 million). The ridge area that the lightning is striking is about 1 square kilometer in area (I checked on Google Earth, below)
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If we assume that the Grand Canyon region’s climate has been fairly consistent over that time (which is a big assumption, and most likely not true), then this same sight has happened somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 million times.
Lightning does strike twice. And that’s a beautiful thought.