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8 Weather Myths Debunked (and 1 That’s Real)

Black weathervane Against a gray autumn sky
LittleElephant/Shutterstock

Weather isn’t always easy to understand, so myths are typical in our belief system. From understanding heat lightning to wearing sunscreen on a cloudy day, let’s look at some of the myths about the weather.

Lightning Only Strikes Once

Lightning may not immediately strike the same place twice in a row, but a site is not safe from another strike just because it’s already happened once. According to weather experts who have debunked this myth, a second strike can occur within minutes or could be millennia away, but it’s bound to happen.

Are you worried about getting struck by lightning? One tell-tale sign that a bolt is on its way toward your location is the standing up of the hairs on your arms.

Lightening with No Storm Is Called Heat Lightning

Another lightning myth believed by many is that when you see lightning flashing across the sky when there is no storm, it’s heat lightning. Heat lightning isn’t actually a thing— it’s a story made up to explain something people don’t understand.

What’s happening when you see heat lightning is a storm off in the distance. The lightning flashes are normal lightning reflecting across the sky.

Open Your Windows During a Tornado

The myth is that air pressure will build up in your home during a tornado, so opening your windows a bit will keep the pressure balanced in your home. Keeping your windows closed won’t cause your home to implode, but it will help protect your home from debris blowing in and damage happening inside.

The Door Frame Is the Safest Place in Your Home During a Tornado 

If you’ve been told to stand in the doorway of your home when a tornado hits, you’ve been given potentially dangerous information. Unless you’re living in an adobe or another sturdy home, the doorway is just as weak as the rest of the house. The same advice holds for earthquakes, too, by the way.

The safest places are in a storm shelter or a basement. If you don’t have those options, get to the middle of the room, away from windows. If you have a heavy desk (like one of those sturdy steel ones you never want to have to move out of your home), you can take shelter under there and hold on.

Under an Overpass Is the Safest Place on the Road During a Tornado

When you find yourself viewing a tornado while you’re on the road, don’t park under an underpass. It is not a safe place at all, as the wind from the tornado can suck you and your car right out of there.

The best bet is to get out of your vehicle and get into a ditch if there isn’t a shelter with a basement nearby. Remember, tornados can change direction, so even though it doesn’t appear to be coming your way, you should still make your way to safety until it’s out of sight.

You’re Only at Risk from Floods in a Flood Zone

Pondering whether or not to invest in flood insurance? While the insurance company may say you’re not eligible because you don’t live in a flood plain, you’re at risk if you live anywhere that could get heavy rains.

Heavy rains can cause water to build up in your yard and driveway. If you don’t have proper drainage, it could end up inside your home, flooding your basement and possibly the rest of your house. Proper draining means having your driveway angle drainage away from your home (mud jacking offers a quick fix), and ensuring that the dirt around your home is draining water away.

You Don’t Need Sunscreen on Cloudy Days

Most people only dig out the sunscreen during the summer and only put it on when they spend a day outdoors in the bright sun. The thing is, you are experiencing the rays of the sun even when the clouds are out.

As much as 80% of the sun’s damaging effects make it through the cloud cover. If you want to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful effects and the potential for skin cancer, wear sunscreen year-round, every time you plan on spending more than a few minutes outside.

Taping Your Windows Prevents Them from Breaking During a Hurricane

Don’t bother wasting tape on your windows to prevent them from breaking during hurricanes or even tornadoes. All you’re really doing is making larger glass shards because they’ll still break.

Instead of tape, close your shades or curtains. Doing so keeps the shattered glass of a broken window from ending up all over your house. If you have storm shutters, they offer the most protection. Your windows may still break, but the glass will stay outside your home.

You Shouldn’t Shower During a Thunderstorm

There are probably just as many people who believe you can get electrocuted if your house gets struck by lightning while you’re taking a shower as there are people who think that’s an urban legend. If you’re a believer, you’re right.

Water does conduct electricity, and if you’ve ever washed your hands in the winter and gotten a shock, you’ve already experienced it. In the case of lightning, it can travel through the plumbing of your home and shock you while you shower.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »