When it comes to the weather, everyone has their favorite proverbs, adages and—with apologies to senior spouses everywhere—old wives’ tales.
Maybe you swear they’re true, or roll your eyes every time someone claims a weather myth as gospel.
So we investigated a few of the classics, hoping to separate fact from fiction. (Test your own powers of discernment by taking our quiz.)
1. Lightning never strikes the same place twice
Sorry. This one is pure myth. Lightning can strike the same place repeatedly, sometimes within just a matter of minutes. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, the Empire State Building is hit by lightning nearly 100 times per year.
One North Texas man, 31-year-old Casey Wagner, claims lightning struck him not once, but twice while he took cover under a tree during a thunderstorm. Wagner was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but was able to walk away with very minor injuries.
Still hanging on? Here’s a video of lightning striking the Empire State Building multiple times in just a matter of seconds.
2. Achy joints can predict the rain.
Believe it or not, but Grandpa’s bad knee really can predict when it’s about to rain. While this was long-considered an old wives’ tale, recent studies have linked joint pain to oncoming weather.
The culprit? Changes in barometric pressure and temperature. Studies have found these changes impact nerve endings around joints, particularity hypersensitive joints, such as those affected by arthritis.
3. Open the windows in your house before a tornado to equalize pressure
Don’t believe this one for a minute. In fact, close the windows. Opening them merely creates the opportunity for more debris to blow into your home.
Tornadoes can be very dangerous, and wasting time opening the windows may put you in harm’s way.
Instead, seek shelter immediately. FEMA recommends staying away from windows, getting as low as possible (preferably seeking shelter in a basement) and, if possible, taking cover under a sturdy table and protecting your head.
4. If you count from the time you see lightning to when you hear thunder, it will tell you how many miles away a storm is.
Yep. This really works. It is actually possible to estimate the distance of an oncoming storm by using the flash to bang method. Simply count the seconds from when you see lightning to the time you hear thunder, then divide the number of seconds by 5. This will tell you how many miles away the storm is.
For example, if you see lightning and count to 15 before you hear the thunder. Divide 15 by five and you’ll know the storm is three miles away.
But be careful if you ever get stuck outside during a storm, even if it is three miles away. According to the National Weather Service, lightning can strike up to 10 miles from a storm, so you should seek shelter when you hear thunder or see lightning.
Especially if the lightning strikes the same place twice.
Got your own weather beliefs? Share them below. We’ll giving away a free XX to the most unusual weather myth, true or false.