The speed of lightning

While lightning strikes move at a relatively slow 270,000 mph, the flashes we see as a consequence of a lightning strike move at the speed of light (670,000,000 mph).

Accordingly, it would take about 1.5 seconds to journey from London to Bristol or about 55 minutes to reach the moon.

When lightning strikes a beach

When lightning hits sand or sandy soil, it fuses the grains to form a small glass-like tube known as a fulgurite.


Collectors and scientists highly value them because they show that lightning storms have occurred in the past.

The most lightning-struck location in the world

The most lightning hits on Earth occur at Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.

On 140–160 evenings per year, there are large thunderstorms with an average of 28 lightning strikes per minute, lasting up to 10 hours. In a single night, that’s up to 40,000 lightning hits!

Helicopters cause lightning

The Met Office recently discovered that a single lightning discharge could be brought on by a helicopter.

The helicopter picks up a negative charge while in flight; therefore, if it travels near a positively charged area (such as hail or a positively charged region of a cumulonimbus cloud), it may cause a lightning strike.

1,400,000,000 strikes every year

One of nature’s most frequent and frequent occurrences is lightning. Every day, there are more than 3,000,000 lights worldwide.

That works out to about 44 hits per second.

Lightning destroys trees

Lightning impacts are frequently capable of uprooting trees. Lightning typically moves just below the tree’s bark, where there is a layer of sap and water when it strikes a tree.

Instantaneously heated and expanding, this layer causes the bark to be blown off the tree and occasionally splits the timber.

But it can help plants grow.

While nitrogen is present in the air all around us, plants depend on a process known as nitrogen fixation to absorb it (a process essential for their growth).

Even though bacteria and algae handle a large portion of this process, the intense heat of a lightning strike causes nitrogen to bond with oxygen to form nitrogen oxides, which, combined with air moisture, descend as rain and provide plants with nitrate-rich water.

The width of a thumb and hotter than the sun

The width of a lightning bolt is only about 2-3 cm, despite the intensity of an impact, making them appear as thick bolts across the sky. A lightning strike typically travels between two and three miles.

Lightning can achieve temperatures of 30,000 °C, which is five times hotter than the surface of the Sun, due to the intense charge carried down this narrow channel.

Volcanic lightning

Even though lightning storms are amazing in and of themselves, they can’t quite match the show that occurs when volcanic eruptions cause lightning strikes.

Earth and ash are hurled into the air during an eruption in a massive plume, colliding and producing an electrical charge. Similar to regular lightning, lightning strikes are caused by a mismatch between the plume’s electrical charge and the atmosphere’s charge.

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