FARMERSBURG, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) –
Moving at the speed of light, lightning makes for fascinating viewing. So, how does lightning form?
You need cold air and warm air. When they meet, the warm air rises, making thunderstorm clouds. The cold air has ice crystals. The warm air has water droplets. During the storm, the droplets and crystals bump together and move apart in the air. This rubbing makes static electrical charges in the clouds.
When you think lightning, think electrons. Negative charges from the thunderstorm begin zigzagging down toward the ground. As that charge nears the ground, it draws positive charges upward from the surface.
The charges connect, creating a powerful electrical current for the lightning bolt.
It happens in less than a second at a temperature five times greater than the surface of the sun!
Not all lightning is the same. The most common types of lightning we see either happen within the cloud or from the cloud to the ground. It’s rare, but lightning can go from the ground to the cloud.
So, how far away is lightning?
The method of counting the seconds between lightning and thunder is sometimes called the flash-to-bang technique.
Watch the stormy sky, from a distance for safety.
When you see the lightning strike, count the number of seconds until you hear thunder. Use your watch or phone, or try to count seconds as accurately as possible. Example, it’s 15 seconds. Divide the number of seconds by 5; and you get 3 miles. It will give us 3 miles. Or search for a lightning distance calculator online.