Atmosphere And Weather
lightning hits tree

Lightning Bolts from the Blue



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lightning hits tree
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"Lightning Bolts from the Blue"
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We have all read stories about lightning striking on a cloudless day. These streaks of lightning are often referred to as “bolts from the blue” since they seem to come out of a clear blue sky. This is where bolts or streaks of lightning form out of the side of a cloud and travel for miles before striking the ground.

Lightning is one of the oldest natural phenomena on earth. It not only can be seen in thunderstorms but also in extremely intense forest fires, volcanic eruptions, surface nuclear detonations and it has even been known to strike during a snowstorm.  It is one phenomenon that scientists have yet to completely explain. Lightning can strike anywhere. It can strike up to ten miles away from the originating storm and in some instances has been known to strike up to 25 miles away from where the lightning originated. This explains why lightning can strike on a perfectly cloudless day.  

There are a few things needed in order for lightning to form. Thunderstorms will more than likely develop on warm sunny days in the summer. The sun heats the air and the pockets of warm air rise up into the atmosphere. Hot temperatures on the ground and moist conditions are needed. Add to that, an updraft of air that sends the hot wet air up into the cooler air to condense and form clouds and you have a recipe for thunder and lightning. It is interesting to note that lightning makes thunder happen, not vice versa.You can find more information at this link - http://news.discovery.com

No one can predict where lightning will strike. Even though scientists know the cloud conditions necessary to produce lightning they cannot predict the time or the location where the next stroke of lightning will occur. Lightning strikes the ground nearly every day somewhere in the United States. We do know that tall objects such as trees and skyscrapers are susceptible to a lightning strike. And mountains also make a good target for lightning.  The reason for this is that they are closer to the base of the storm cloud. But it is good to remember that tall objects are not always hit. It depends on where the charges accumulate. An open field can be struck by lightning even if there are trees close by.

No place is perfectly safe from lightning in a thunderstorm.  Some places to avoid are tall or isolated trees, unprotected gazebos, open fields or places, high places, water such as oceans, rivers, lakes, swimming pools, etc.,  picnic shelters, baseball dugouts.  Places that are safe are indoor shelters that are completely enclosed or a metal hard topped vehicle. And remember that lightning can strike as far as ten miles from where a thunderstorm is beginning. This is about the distance you can hear the thunder. You may not even know that a thunder storm is nearby. This is dangerous because that is when “bolts from the blue” could happen, when lightning travels that extra-long distance through clear air  on that cloudless, sunny day when least expected.  So be aware, be prepared and be safe.


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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/ltg/crh_boltblue.php
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/lightning/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/lightning-on-clear-day-110729.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.discovery.com/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.walpole-ma.gov/WalpoleEMA/WalpoleEMA/Lightning.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/lightning/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.crystalinks.com/lightning.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.walpole-ma.gov/WalpoleEMA/WalpoleEMA/Lightning.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/ltg/crh_boltblue.php