What is lightning?

Posted: 2:43 PM EDT Jul 26, 2011

Lightning is the action of rising and descending air within a thunderstorm, separating the positive and negative charges.

Water and ice particles also affect the distribution of electrical charge.

Lightning results from the buildup and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas within a thunderstorm.

Most lightning occurs within the cloud or between the cloud and ground.

The average flash of lightning could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.

Lightning is also incredibly hot and the air near a bolt of lightning is heated to 50,000 degrees F, which is hotter than the surface of the sun!

The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave that results in the thunder that you hear.

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