What Are the Actual Causes of Lightning in the Sky?

Eliza | 09 - 02 - 2022
actual causes of lightning in the sky

At least once in your lifetime, you might have looked into the sky and wondered what causes lightning and thunder. From believing that lightning was a weapon of Zeus to thunderbolts invented by Athena, there are various ancient myths about lightning. But what are the actual causes of lightning in the sky? Here is the answer

In simple terms, lightning is a sudden electrostatic discharge between clouds or between the cloud and the ground. When the ground is hot, the air gets warm. The warm air rises and forms clouds. When the warm air meets the cold air, it rises even more and forms thunder clouds. This is why lightning is said to be closely related to thunderstorms. The cold air contains crystal-like particles like rain, ice, or snow inside clouds. When these particles move around, they bump and rub into each other, which causes an electric charge. Later, the entire cloud possesses electric charges. The upper part of the cloud accumulates lighter, positively charged particles and heavier, negatively charged particles sink at the bottom of the cloud. When the positive and negative charges grow, it causes lightning. Mostly, lightning happens within clouds, but it can also happen between the sky and the ground. 

Striking Lightning Facts and Information

Here are some of the interesting lightning facts and myths. 

Which Comes First, Lightning or Thunder?
  • A. Lightning
  • B. Thunder
  • Lightning travels at the speed of light, which is about 186,000 m/s. 
  • Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela is called the lightning capital of the world. It also holds the Guinness record for the highest concentration of lightning. 
  • You might have heard lightning never strikes the same place twice. This is a myth! Lightning can strike the same place frequently. According to the National Weather Service, the Empire State Building is hit by lightning an average of 25 times per year. 
  • Texas and Floria experience more lightning strikes than any other state in the U.S. 

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