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Weather Wise: Lightning Charges

Weather Wise: Lightning Charges
Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 10:51:56-04

Lightning is the width of your thumb and hotter than the sun. It is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge between two differently charged regions, a positive and a negative. Different charges in a thunderstorm are created by ice particles rubbing against each other millions and millions of times.

On radar maps negative lightning is identified by yellow and positive lightning is red. There is a significant difference between the two.

Negative lightning originates from the lower level of a thunderstorm and often strikes the ground directly under the cloud base. Around 95% of lightning strikes are negative. They are more common because of the proximity of the bottom of the storm being negatively charged and the ground being positively charged.

Positive lightning comes from the top of a thunderstorm and can strike as more than 20 miles away. Positive lightning are 10 times more powerful than negative strikes and can carry up to 1 billion volts.

To the naked eye, the flash duration of positively charged lightning is longer, there is only one stroke, and the associated thunder can be louder. Negative lightning can have multiple strokes. positive strikes are responsible for a large percentage of forest fires and power line damage.

Just remember, all lightning is dangerous. So when thunder roars, head indoors.