What Causes Lightning?
The Weather Conditions neededSo what causes lightning? Find out what conditions are needed, and learn how lightning is formed.
When a strong thunderstorm comes your way, I'm sure you've wondered what causes that bright flash and loud sound afterwards. Actually it's not that complicated and it's one of the simplest weather phenomena to explain. Even though many scientists today have come to a consensus on the theory of what causes lightning, there is still some doubt within the weather community as to what the complete explanation is.
Lightning is an electric current and the most common accepted theory as to why lightning forms, is the polarization mechanism in clouds with thunderstorms. It is created by a brief electric discharge and if you've ever been shocked in the wintertime, it is kind of like that only much much bigger.
In a thundercloud, you have many frozen raindrops which bump into each other as they move throughout the cloud. The result of them bumping together causes an electrical charge and positive charges form at the top of the cloud and negative charges form at the bottom.
All of this causes positive charges to build up beneath and around the cloud and on the ground. You ever wonder why one of the main weather safety rules during a thunderstorm is don't take shelter under a tree? Well, trees are just one of many things where electrical charges can build up and connect with charges from clouds. Other things can be people, houses, skyscrapers and other tall towers, and mountains.
You will frequently see lightning rods on top of tall buildings and this is to send a lightning strike straight to the ground harmlessly, instead of throughout the building causing damage. Once a connection is made, then bam, you have a lightning strike.
- Lightning is over 6 times hotter than the surface of the sun
- Thunder can only be heard at about 12 miles away under quiet outdoor conditions
- The size of an average lightning bolt is about the size of a quarter
- The average lightning bolt is 6-8 miles long
- The outreach of a lightning bolt can be 10 miles from the storm, and many deaths occur from lightning strikes under clear skies
- About 20 million cloud to ground lightning strikes occur in the states each year.
- There are around 2,000 thunderstorms going on earth at any given moment
- The U.S. averages about 100,000 thunderstorms each year
- The world record for someone being struck by lightning is 7!
How Hot is Lightning?
Learn about the temperature of lightning at how hot is lightning. It's quite an amazing phenomena of weather.
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Lightning strike on the Renaissance Center
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