Lightning: An atmospheric electrostatic discharge (spark) accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunder storms. (Can also occur during a volcanic eruption, dust storm, or forest fire if there is sufficient dust to create a static charge.)
In the United States, an average of 300 people are injured and 80 people are killed each year by lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
* Rapidly heats the air in its immediate vicinity to about 20,000 degrees Celsius – about three times the temperature of the surface of the sun.
* Trees are frequent conductors of lightening to the ground. Two most frequently struck tree types are the oak and the elm. (Pine trees are also quite often hit.)
* A bolt of lightening can travel at speeds of 140,000 mph.
* Can reach temperatures of 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
* There are some 16 million lightening storms in the world every year.
* The fear of lightening (and thunder) is called astraphobia.
* Singapore has one of the highest rates of lightning activity in the world.
* Approximately 70% of lightening storms occur in the tropics where the majority of thunderstorms occur.
* Lightning rarely strikes the open ocean.
* The Gulf Stream endures about the same number of lightning strikes as the southern plains of the USA.
* Cloud-To-Ground: The best known second most common type of lightning that poses the greatest threat to life and property since it strikes the ground. Discharges between cumulonimbus cloud and ground.
* Bead: Relatively rare cloud-to-ground that appear to break into a string of short, bright sections.
* Ribbon: Occurs in thunderstorms with high cross winds.
* Staccato: Cloud-to-ground short duration strokes with very right flashes.
* Forked: Cloud-to-ground that exhibits branching in its path.
* Ground-To-Cloud: Ground to cumulonimbus also called positive lightning.
* Cloud-To-Cloud: Between two clouds (Inter-cloud lightning) within one cloud (intra-cloud lightning)
* Sheet: Cloud-to-cloud lightning that appears as only a flash.
* Heat: Appears to produce no thunder because too far away.
* Dry: Lightening that occurs with no precipitation at the surface.
* Rocket: Form of cloud discharge, horizontal and at cloud base often intermittently
* Positive: Occurs when positive charge carried by the top of the cloud instead of the ground.
* Ball: Luminous, spherical objects which vary from pea sized to several meters in diameter.
* Upper Atmosphere: Mega Lightening
* Sprites: Large scale electrical discharge that occur high above a thunderstorm cloud, varied range of visual shapes.
* Blue Jets: Differ from Sprites in that they project from the top of the cloud above a thunderstorm to the lowest levels, brighter than Sprites and blue in color.
* Elves: Dim, flattened, expanding glows around 250 miles in diameter that last for one millisecond. Occurs 60 miles above the ground over thunderstorms.
Because lightning heats the air causing it to expand in a short period of time, it creates an increase in pressure that results in a shock wave audible as thunder. Since light travels at a greater speed than sound through air, one can approximate the distance by timing the interval between the visible lightning strike and the audible thunder it generates.
“If thunder roars, go indoors!” Stay indoors until 30 minutes have passed after the last clap of thunder.
* Avoid contact with corded phones, electrical equipments or cords.
* Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
* Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
* Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike): Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground!
After A Strike:
Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
* Call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible.
* Breathing – if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
* Heartbeat – if the heart has stopped, administer CPR
* Pulse – If the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or eyesight.