Emergency Preparedness Month – Sep 23

Be Prepared for a Thunderstorm handout.

Interesting Facts about Lightning!!

  • Lightning can strike up to 25 miles away from the center of the storm.
  • Lightning can carry over 100 million volts of electricity.
  • The diameter of a lightning strike is actually pretty small, just the size of a quarter! It just looks much larger because of how bright it is.
  • The strike length is usually 2 to 3 miles.
  • The strike happens in under 2 microseconds (that’s 0.000002 seconds).
  • Lightning strikes are over 50,000 degrees! That’s more than 5 times the temperature of the sun.
  • Thunder is the rapid expansion of air around a lightning strike. When air is heated it expands, so the cracking and rumbling you hear is the 50,000-degree lightning almost instantaneously expanding the air around it.
  • Thunder is heard after the lightning strike because light travels much faster than the speed of sound. The warmer the air, the faster the sound of thunder travels, and the colder the air, the slower the sound of thunder travels.
  • You can deduce the distance of the storm by counting the time difference between the lightning and the thunder (5 seconds = 1 mile away).
  • There are 50 to 100 cloud to ground lightning strikes every second world wide, that’s over 3 million strikes per day!
  • “Heat” lightning is just a lightning strike that is too far away to hear the thunder, because thunder can only be heard 12 miles away. It is only called heat lightning because it happens most often in the summer.
  • The electricity in lightning travels from the ground up, not from the cloud to the ground.

Tina Arthur, CHMM
Environmental, Safety, Health, & Security Manager
Hager Companies

(Link to next post.)