Lightning is a powerful burst of electricity that happens very quickly during a thunderstorm.
Lightning is caused by an electrical charge in the atmosphere that is unbalanced.
The movement of rain and ice inside a thundercloud creates an electrical charge, with the negative charge (electrons) forming at the bottom of the cloud and the positive charge (protons) forming at the top.
Opposites attract so the negative charge at the bottom of the cloud seeks out a positive charge to connect with.
Lightning can occur inside clouds, between clouds and from clouds to the ground.
Around one quarter of lightning is from cloud to ground.
When lightning strikes the ground it seeks out the shortest route to something with a positive charge, this might be a tree, a tall building or if they’re very unlucky, a person.
Thousands of people are struck by lightning every year.
Direct lightning strikes are usually fatal.
Lightning rods (also called conductors) are metal rods or similar objects that divert lightning safely to the ground, they can often be seen at the top of tall buildings.
Most lightning occurs over land rather than oceans, with around 70% of it occurring in the Tropics.
There are bolts of lightning striking somewhere on Earth every second.
Lightning strikes usually last around 1 or 2 microseconds.
Lightning contains millions of volts of electricity.
Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. Read our thunder facts for more.
The average temperature of lightning is around 20000 °C (36000 °F).
Lightning is usually produced by cumulonimbus clouds that are very tall and dense.
Lightning can also occur during volcanic eruptions, dust storms, snow storms, forest fires and tornadoes. Check out this amazing picture of volcano lightning or watch it happen in this volcano lightning video!
The study of lightning is known as fulminology.
Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightning.
The Tampa Bay ice hockey team that play in the National Hockey League (NHL) are called the Lightning.
Learn more about how lightning works with this static electricity experiment, watch an incredible lightning bolt video or enjoy a lightning coloring page.