Atmosphere And Weather

Lightning is the most Spectacular and Frightening Element of a Storm

Norman A. Rubin's image for:
"Lightning is the most Spectacular and Frightening Element of a Storm"
Image by: 

On one foul night my wife and myself were engrossed in watching an oldie horror film starring both Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, a film filled with lots of scary stuff with a background of a Bach organ piece adding to the mystery. As the film progressed there came a scream in the dark, then there was the vision of a bloody knife held aloft by a skeletal hand and, off course, Bach added his assistance. Suddenly there was a flash of lightning that appeared on the sky, that flashed through the windows of my parlor and then my electricity conked out, leaving us in the dark. Then, suddenly, the roar of thunder, rolled through the heated air. Fortunately our emergency lighting switched on immediately and through its light we both sat with our hearts thumping and wondering what happened in the film, but our telly was a darkened screen.

Lightning is the most spectacular and frightening element of a thunderstorm, when its flash of bright light spears its way through the darkened sky. The forked or crooked lightning pattern creates a dazzling pattern in a dark stormy day or night moving rapidly between a thunder cloud and the earth or between two thunder clouds. The large spark of lightning is simply electricity running through the charged atmosphere (15,000 to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Rapidly rising air currents around dark cumulonimbus clouds that contains water droplets, hail or ice particles that causes positive electric charges to collect mainly on top of the cloud and negative in most of the cloud. The positive charges in the cloud and the negative charge in the cloud or on another cloud collide with one another. When a very large quantity of positive charges collect on the top of a cumulonimbus cloud, they become strong enough to force their way through the air. They then jump to a negative charge and when the positive charges on the ground meet them (roughly a millionth of a second), they making a huge spark, called a lightning bolt. But at all times, you will always see a brilliant flash of lightning before you hear the roar of thunder.

Lightning has many forms and streaked shapes Forked of Chain lightning is the crooked lightning when one sees zigzagging across the sky and through the thunderclouds in any thunderstorm. Ribbon flash lightning occurs in thunderstorms with high cross winds. Ball lightning looks similar to balloons on fire that drop from the sky and explode when they hit the ground; Ball lightning is quite dangerous when it rolls along the ground until it hits an object, be it a tree or a house with its fateful consequences. Sheet lightning lights up the whole sky with no special shape or form; it is the light from a chain lightning flash that occurs very far away, etc...

Note: Remember the expression "Lightning never strikes twice or in the same place" is a fantasy as it occurs frequently and more in specific places and in most probabilities repeated lightning strikes are not impossible.


Then immediately after a flash of lightning a crackling roar reverberates though the misty air as thunder caused by the lightning turns into a booming sound wave. The air waves pass one after another, so one hears the sound of thunder as a series of rumbles. Thunder is an explosion of the heated air that creates sound waves, which one hears. When lightning strikes very close by, we hear the thunder as a loud and short frightening clamor. .

If you are caught outdoors in a thunderstorm one must obey certain rules. In the United States alone, it is estimated that between 75 to 100 Americans are hit and killed each year by lightning. Certain trees were believed to be prone to lightning, while others were apparently immune so if you are not sure stay away from trees; also do not use a metal framed umbrella to protect oneself as it also attracts lightning (PVC frames are recommended.) When you see lightning or hear thunder, run to the nearest safe building or wooden shelter. Do not take refuge from lightning storms in unsafe vehicles golf carts, open cab construction equipment and boats with out cabins, and in any other open vehicles.. .

Note: One should stay away from metal, electrical and electronic objects in the home when a thunderstorm is overhead. (The American Meteorological Service has tips for protecting your electrical appliances and electronics from lightning.)

A good safety rule during thunderstorms:

"If you see it, flee it."
"If you hear it, clear it."
"When lightning roars, go indoors."
"Lightning kills; play it safe."

Well, in about fifteen minutes the Electric Company blessed us with the renewable supply of electric current. Lights blazed and we turned up the idiot box to see the film, but all we saw of the movie was the words 'The End'.


More about this author: Norman A. Rubin

From Around the Web

  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrow
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrow