Lightning is an impulsive electrostatic discharge during a strong electrical storm between one and another cloud (CC lightning), between electrically charged sections of a cloud (called intra-cloud lightning or IC), or between a cloud and the ground (CG lightning).
The charged sections in the atmosphere briefly equalize themselves through a discharge known as strike if it hits any object on the ground, and a flash in case it occurs within the cloud.
Lightning generates sound in the form of thunder, and light in the form of plasma. In some instances it may be seen anywhere and not heard when it happens at a distance terrific for the sound to travel as far as the light from the flash or strike.
Essentially, lightning is a huge electric spark which results from billions of volts of natural static electricity. Lightning is often associated with rain and thunderstorms. Many meteorologists will argue that ice formation in the clouds is a major factor which produces the “electric generator” which generates the lightning.
Lightning is an unusual and breathtaking sight to any witness. At the same time, it is one of the most unpredictable and dangerous of all the natural phenomena. However, how much do you know about lightning?
Although scientists worldwide are gathering facts about lightning, diving it into various types, monitoring temperature, measuring its voltage, and creating it in laboratories is still a huge challenge. It is even impossible to predict the behavior of each lighting. Let’s look at some of the facts about lighting.
The lightning frequency on Earth is about 40 to50 times a second or almost 1.4 billion flashes annually and the average time interval is 0.2 seconds made up from significant number of much shorter flashes (strokes) of about 30 microseconds.
Several factors affect the distribution, frequency, strength and the physical properties of a “normal” lightning flash in a specific region of the world. These factors include latitude, relative humidity, prevailing wind currents, proximity to warm, ground elevation, cold bodies of water and much more.
For a specific degree, the ratio between CG, CC and IC lightning may also differ by season in the middle latitudes. Since humans are terrestrial and significant amount of their possessions are on Earth, where lightning can destroy or damage them, CG lightning is the predominantly studied and highly understood of the 3 types, even though CC and IC are more common kinds of lightning.
Relative unpredictability of lightning reduces a full explanation of how or why it happens, even after several decades of scientific investigation.
A typical cloud to the ground lightning flash/strike culminates in the major formation of the electrically conducting plasma channel through the air in surplus of five kilometers (3.1 miles) tall, from inside the cloud to the ground’s surface. The actual discharge is the last stage of an extremely complex process.
At its maximum, a typical thunderstorm generates three or even more strikes to the Earth in every minute. Lightning mainly occurs when colder air is mixed with warm air masses, resulting in atmospheric disturbances required for polarizing the atmosphere.
Nonetheless, it can also occur during tornadoes, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, dust storms, and even during cold of winter, where the lightning is referred to as thundersnow. Hurricanes typically produce some lightning, primarily in the rainbands as much as 160 kilometers (99 miles) from the center.
Thus, as the thundercloud moves over the Earth surface, an equivalent electric charge, but of opposite polarity, is rapidly induced on the surface of the Earth underneath the cloud.
The induced positive charge (on the surface), when accurately measured against a specific point, will reduce as the thundercloud approaches, rising as the center of the storm arrives and reducing as the thundercloud passes. The referential value of any induced surface charge could be approximately represented as a bell curve.
The oppositely charged sections generate an electric field inside the air between them. Hence, it electric field differs relative to the power of the surface charge on the thundercloud base – the higher the accumulated charge, the greater the electrical field.
Interesting About Lightning Facts:
1. Approximately 71.4% of all persons struck by lightning still survive.
2. Lightning bolts usually travel at a speed of up to 60,000 miles in every second.
3. Each lightning bolt often travels through divergent paths in the air which can be as large as one of your fingers or from 3-10miles.
4. A flash of lightning is brighter than 10 million 100-watt light bulbs.
5. A flash of lightning may power a light bulb for almost a month.
6. Temperatures in the path of any lightning bolt can reach up to 50,0000Fahrenheit.
7. The average length of each lightning bolt is two to three miles.
8. In every single moment, there are approximately 1800 thunderstorms.