This Is How One Lightning Strike Can Kill 323 Reindeer

It's surprisingly, and sadly, quite common...

For the second time in a single week we’ve heard about a freak lightning bolt instantly wiping out a large herd of animals.

During a recent thunderstorm in Norway, over 300 reindeer were killed in a single lightning strike.

Norsk Telegrambyra AS / Reuters

Lightning is already known to be one of the most powerful forces nature has at its disposal, but to be able to kill hundreds of animals in a single bolt, how is that actually possible?

Well first lets start with how much energy a bolt of lightning can deliver to a single point. It’s around 1 million joules, which while not enough to power a small town, is more than enough to kill a human being, or several.

In bluntly morbid terms, a lightning bolt kills you by stopping your heart. It can do this two ways: either through a direct strike where it will pass through your body or through a phenomenon called ground current.

What kills you is a difference in current between two points where you’re in contact with the electricity, in the case of the reindeer it was their four legs.

Education Images via Getty Images

As the electricity hit the ground it would have spread over the wet soil and then entered either the reindeer’s front or back hooves. A difference is created between the hoof where the electricity entered and the other hooves which causes a jolt, this is what stops their heart.

Its a tragic situation that’s then compounded by the fact that animals like reindeer, cows and sheep prefer to huddle in close herds during thunderstorms, making them far far more vulnerable to ground current strikes.


What's Hot