Originally Posted by Teetorbilt
It has been my experience that lightning goes wherever it pleases in a direct strike. I have never seen it go back up but have seen it go horizontal for some distance when other grounds were nearby.
In 40+ years of observing it, I have come to this conclusion. It goes wherever it wants to go. Lightning rods can provide a path that it may choose not to follow and at the same time attract it. It's a bizarre energy.
a little off the subject, but an interesting discussion:
That is because Lightning is NOT trying to get to ground per se. Lightning obeys the rules of any other form of electricity and will always move from a point of higher electrical potential to a point of lower electrical potential. (often described as jumping from a collection of "POSITIVELY" particles to a collection of "NEGATIVELY" charged particles.) Now, generally the point of lowest electrical potential is somewhere on the ground (or something touching the ground), but not always. It can often be from one cloud to another or in rare cases, from ground UP to a cloud. The reason you have observed it "skip" some closer ground on its way to another spot farther away is because that happens to be where the charges are at that particular moment.
Lightning rods, at least the ones on residential homes are NOT designed to attract lightning at all - and if they did the tiny cables are not anywhere near enough to dissipate all that energy. They are in fact, designed to PREVENT lightning, hopefully by dissipating charges into the air and preventing the buildup of charges that leads to lightning. Do they work? Sort of - they lessen the possibility of your house getting struck by lightning, but they do not guarantee anything.
There ARE lightning rods that ARE designed to attract lightning, but they are the enormous ones that sit on top of skyscrapers with huge cables running down to the ground. These actually do a pretty good job of protecting the tall buildings.