Using Cellphones During Thunder Storms

Will using a cellphone during a thunder storm increase your chances of getting hit by lightning? According to it will. They've posted a news story warning people not to use their cellphones during storms. The article even lists some examples of cellphone users struck by lightning: an elderly person sightseeing at the Great Wall, a woman on a street in Changchun, etc. Does know what it's talking about? Not really. All the credible information I can find agrees that using a cellphone during a thunder storm poses no risk. For instance, one poster over at Google Answers notes that cellphones do produce ionizing radiation, which could theoretically attract lightning, but the amount involved is so negligible that it's very unlikely. The National Weather Service site actually urges people to use cellphones during storms, rather than land lines. On a related note, Myth Busters proves that metal tongue-piercings don't attract lightning either. My theory about those Chinese cellphone users is that they weren't really hit by lightning... instead, they had all just received a call from one of those killer Nigerian phone numbers. 😉 (via


Posted on Tue Jul 27, 2004


The poster at Google Answers is, I think, blowing smoke. Ionizing radiation is radioactivity, such as that produced by uranium or an X-ray machine. Cell phones do not - NOT - produce ionizing radiation. They produce *non*-ionizing radiation, which is to say, electromagnetic radiation, which is to say, radio waves.
Posted by Terry Austin  on  Wed Jul 28, 2004  at  12:27 AM
Terry is right. Cell phones are RADIO transmitters, and so are no different from CB radios, walkie-talkies, or for that matter, TV and radio stations. I have never heard of transmitting radio antennae attracting lightning strikes with greater frequency than other metal poles of similar hieght. I first thought the story was just another case of ignorant journalism, but the quotes from a professor of atmosperic science and an "expert" from the school of physics makes me wonder if it's not another "cell-phone-gas-station-danger" urban ledgend.
Posted by Joesixpack  on  Thu Jul 29, 2004  at  10:58 AM
Haha...I bet your right...I bet is was those Killer Nigerian Phone Numbers!!! You made me laugh...thanks.
Posted by Gee...  on  Thu Jul 29, 2004  at  01:53 PM
The answer to this question is simple: It does not
Posted by Michael  on  Thu Jul 10, 2008  at  06:13 AM
:coolsmile: Thank you for the answer.
Posted by Hout  on  Sun Apr 28, 2013  at  02:45 AM
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