CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Over the last week we’ve had a lot of different days with thunderstorms and downpours and more possible over the next week. How exactly does the lightning in a thunderstorm form?
It’s all about separation of charges. Negatively charged electrons begin zigzagging downward forming a “stepped leader” with positive charges on the ground. As the leader nears the ground it draws the positive charges on the ground upward making a “streamer” and as the leader and streamer merge a powerful electrical current starts to flow.
The return stroke is what we see traveling at 60,000mi/sec and the process may repeat several times creating a flickering motion as lightning strikes. This whole process happens in less than a second.
Cloud to ground is the most common with intra-cloud very common as well. It’s the cloud to ground that are the most dangerous.
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