Lightning kills in some states as Monsoon progress: Basics Explained

Several states, ex Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh received rainfall where several people, were killed in separate incidents after being struck by lightning which also injured some. 


Lightning is a discharge of electricity; an electrostatic discharge accompanied by the emission of visible light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

Lightning happens when the negative charges (electrons) in the bottom of the cloud are attracted to the positive charges (protons) in the ground.

A single stroke of lightning can heat the air around it to 30,000°C (54,000°F)! This extreme heating causes the air to expand explosively fast. The expansion creates a shock wave that turns into a booming sound wave, known as thunder

When cold air and warm air meet, the warm air goes up. It makes thunderstorm clouds. The cold air has ice crystals. The warm air has water droplets. During the storm, the droplets and crystals bump together and move apart in the air. This rubbing makes static electrical charges in the clouds.

Just like a battery, these clouds have a “plus” end and a “minus” end. The plus, or positive, charges in the cloud are at the top. The minus, or negative, charges are at the bottom. When the charge at the bottom gets strong enough, the cloud lets out energy.

The energy goes through the air. It goes to a place that has the opposite charge. This lightning bolt of energy that is let out is called a leader stroke. It can go from the cloud to the ground.

Once the negative charge at the bottom of the cloud gets large enough, a flow of negative charge called a stepped leader rushes toward the Earth. The positive charges at the ground are attracted to the stepped leader, so the positive charge flows upward from the ground. When the stepped leader and the positive charge meet, a strong electric current carries a positive charge up into the cloud. This electric current is known as the return stroke. We see it as the bright flash of a lightning bolt.

Thunder and lightning occur at roughly the same time although you see the flash of lightning before you hear the thunder. This is because light travels much faster than sound.


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