Weather School: Lightning

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Lightning can happen daily in summertime thunderstorms. But even though it's fairly common, it's not something you want to get up close and personal with.

Lightning is a giant spark of electricity between clouds, the air, and the ground. Tiny bits of ice within a thunderstorm cloud constantly bump into each other. The collisions create positive and negative electrical charges. Positive charges tend to make their way to the top of the cloud while negative charges tend to accumulate at the bottom.

The negative charges at the bottom of the cloud cause a positive charge to build up here on the ground. Positive charge coming up from the ground can eventually connect with negative charge reaching down from the cloud, creating a lightning strike.

Lightning causes thunder. Lightning is 6 times hotter than the surface of the sun. The rapid heating of the air surrounding a lightning strike causes it to expand quickly. That quick expansion creates a shock wave that we hear as thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning so when thunder roars, go indoors.

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