Lightning storms are awe-inspiring natural phenomena, akin to nature’s circuit breakers, resetting the electrical balance in the atmosphere. These dazzling bolts of electricity, born from thunderstorms, are both captivating and perilous. Lightning is strikingly common, with a hundred bolts illuminating the Earth every second, primarily in the form of cloud-to-cloud strikes. This electrical extravaganza unfolds when an atmospheric charge disparity develops between a storm cloud and the ground or a nearby cloud. Precipitation within the cloud generates a negative charge, inducing a positive charge in the earth below, culminating in a lightning bolt that restores equilibrium.

When lightning strikes, it unleashes scorching heat, five times hotter than the sun, causing the air to rapidly expand, leading to the creation of the familiar thunder. Lightning travels at an astonishing 200,000 miles per hour, often unseen by the human eye, in a jagged path termed a stepped leader. As it nears an object on the ground, a bolt of positive energy races upward at 60,000 miles per second, producing the blinding flash we recognize as lightning.

While thunderstorms, the birthplace of lightning, are most frequent in July in the United States, their occurrence is not limited to any particular season. Florida and Texas see the highest lightning activity by state, and the southeastern region is particularly prone. Although most lightning strike survivors live to tell the tale, approximately 2,000 individuals worldwide succumb to lightning annually, primarily due to cardiac arrest or severe injuries. Lightning safety measures include seeking shelter in grounded structures, avoiding tall objects, refraining from using corded electronics, and staying away from windows and doors, as lightning can strike through them.


#2 ‘Lightning from an Isolated Storm over Cannes Bay’ © Serge Zaka

#3 Photography by Jason Weingart.

















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