Is it possible for naturally occurring metal deposits to attract lightning?
An area about 10 miles north of Reno, Nev., seems to get hit by lightning strikes constantly. The vegetation is low sage and grass. Is it possible that naturally occurring metal deposits are attracting the lightning?
— Kathy Roubal, Reno, Nev. ; formerly of Berwyn
It is not possible because lightning ground strikes do not necessarily strike “preferred” ground-based objects. Lightning does tend (emphasis on “tend”) to strike the highest object within the potential area of a ground strike, but not necessarily. It has struck the side, rather than the top, of a skyscraper, for example.
Naturally occurring metal deposits have no influence on the precise location of a ground strike because metal does not attract lightning. The area probably experiences frequent thunderstorms because of the topography.