Interesting Facts About Lightning

Lightning flashes travel at the speed of light, which is just over 1,079,000,000 km/h. Lightning itself travels much slower, almost 434,000,000 km/h to be exact. Here are some more interesting facts about lightning.

10 facts about lightning 

  1. When lightning strikes, strange patterns called “Lichtenberg figures” appear on the skin.
  2. When lightning strikes sand or sandy soil, the grains of sand fuse together to form a small “glass” tube known as fulgurite.
  3. Lightning is quite hot. Its temperature is almost 30,000 degrees Celsius. It is about five times hotter than the surface of the Sun!
  4. Helicopters cause thunderstorms. A recent study by the Bureau of Meteorology showed that a helicopter generates a negative charge when it flies, so when it passes near a positively charged area (such as the base of a cumulonimbus cloud), it can cause a lightning strike.
  5. There are volcanic lightning strikes, but they are quite rare. When an eruption occurs, the ground and ash rise into the air in a giant plume, creating an electrical charge. Just like normal lightning, the imbalance between the electrical charge of volcanic emissions and the charge of the atmosphere leads to lightning strikes.
  6. Not only does lightning strike the same places more than once, but it can strike more than one place at the same time.
  7. Lightning kills more men than women. According to the National Weather Service, between 2016 and 2019, nearly 80 percent of those killed by lightning strikes were men.
  8. Lightning once restored a man’s sight. American Edwin Robinson went blind in a car accident in 1971. Nine years later, he was struck by lightning, causing the man to lose consciousness for 20 minutes. Upon waking up, Robinson found his sight had returned.
  9. Every year there are up to 1,400,000,000 flashes around the world, more than 3,000,000 flashes every day, which is about 44 flashes per second.
  10. Nearly 2,000 people die each year from this natural electrical charge. Hundreds of people survive the shocks but suffer a host of persistent symptoms, including memory loss, numbness, dizziness and weakness. Strokes can cause cardiac arrest and severe burns, but 9 out of 10 people survive. The average European has about a 1 in 5,000 chance of being struck by lightning.

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