Good Morning Everyone. my name is Brandon Brady and I live in Florida. I am a meteorology student at MSU. My blog today is about Lightning. In case you didn’t know Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. In this blog I will talk about the lightning Process and Formation, Characteristics of Lightning, Lightning casuality, Affects on the Human Body, Symptoms suffered by lightning strikes, Reported Strikes, Cool Statistics about Lightning, Number of fatalities in a certain time period, and Locations that are high risk of lightning strikes, and finally myths about lightning. I will attempt to put images up as well.

The image above is a fully mature cloud to ground complete circuit lightning strike, from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

1. I want to talk Lightning Process and Formation

Lightning first forms when you have a growing thunderstorm and there is water droplets, ice crystals, and graupel or ice nuclei(milky white ice very small) in a cumulonimbus cloud. Now to have water and ice present temperatures are to be below freezing in the cloud. Pure water has a low freezing point, that is why the phases of water are all present. As water collects on ice crystals, the outer layers start to separate and positive charges and negative charges start to separate, positive charges going to the top of the thunderstorm cloud near the (ANVIL),, and the negative charge moving toward the base of the cloud. I will provide the 4 steps of a completed lightning strike

A. INTIATION – Charge separation occurs within a cloud, stated above, negative cloud base induces a positive charge at ground level.

B. STEPPED LEADER – Stepped leaders are the beginning of lightning, they ionize or charge the air, forming a narrow conductive path roughly 10 centimeters, about the width of a penny and a length of 50-100 meters. Stepped Leaders are negatively charged.

C. CONNECTING LEADER –  A connecting leader rises from the ground, tree, or any ground structure.

D. RETURN STROKE – The bright return stroke which is positively charged begins to carry the charge , which has been deposited on the path, downward. Furthermore, the Return stroke completes the circuit between the negative charges at the base of the cloud and the positive charges from ground level.

This all seems complicated in the process of cloud to ground lightning, but the process takes less than a second to occur!!!


2. Characteristics of Lightning

A. Stepped Leader – Length 50 – 100 meters many segments

B. Return Stroke – Much longer up 5km long or 3.25 miles long

C. Speed – Lightning travels 3700 miles per second, or 224,000 mph. That’s incredible.

D. Lightning Flashes – 3 – 4 times per stroke, 40 milliseconds between strokes, and .20 second duration of flash.


3. Lightning casualty

A. Lightning causes 85-100 deaths every year in the U.S. , over 300 injuries

B. 200 Million dollars per year in damages

C. Contributes to 15,000 forest fires – out in the Western U.S. causing on average 2 million acres burned.

D. Average- Facts provided are based on averages


4. Lightning Affects on the Human Body

A.   Anatomy Lesson – says that human existence is electrochemical. Every thought, feeling, memory, motion, emotion, etc is related to electrical chemical energy. too much electricity fries our systems in our body from nervous system to the circulatory system. In fact 10% of lightning victims die.

B. Majority of Lightning victims suffer Chronic Illnesses – These include: Depression, Memory loss, Irritability, and Pins/Needles Feeling or nerve damage.


5. Symptoms suffered by lightning strikes

A. Memory Loss – 52% of lightning victims report memory loss

B. Depression – 32% of lightning victims report depression

C. Attention Deficit Disorder – 41% of lightning victims say they can concentrate well or they are hyperactive

D. Inability to sit for a period of time – 32% of lightning victims report this symptom

E. Sleep Disturbances – 44% of lightning victims report that can’t sleep a complete night.


6.  Reported Strikes10 % of victims die, 70% percent of victims suffer long term damage, 84% of lightning victims are male and 16% are female, Most lightning strikes hit people between 2pm – 6 pm, 1 lightning stroke hitting more than 1 person is 9%.


7. Cool Statistics about Lightning

A. Lightning can extend 10 miles from the cloud.

B. Lightning is extremely hot up to 5 times hotter than the surface of the Sun at 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

C. 16 Million thunderstorms per year around the globe

D. 1,800 thunderstorms at any given moment around the globe

E. 10 – 10,000 times more lightning over land than the Ocean ( need the positive and negative separation that u get on cloud to land surfaces)


8. When Thunder Roars Go Indoors

A.  As mention above lightning can extend 10 miles from the cloud. One of the most dangerous lightning strokes is the “Bolt from the Blue”. This happens when a thunderstorm has passed or a thunderstorm is near by but there is no rain or signs of a storm and a lightning strike accompanied by thunder occurs. This has killed or injured many people.

B. Thunder is an indication of an impending lightning strike or better yet that lightning has ALREADY occurred.

C. Thunder is a result when air is super heated (50,000 degrees or so) very quickly, it expands explosively and produces the sound waves we hear as Thunder.

D. The thunder we hear as a rumble is produced along a long lightning path located at some distance from the observer.


9.  Number of Deaths Reported by States and Locations at Risk

The top three States where deaths were reported from 1995-2004

A. Florida = 85, Rank 1

B. Texas = 34, Rank 2

C. Colorado = 31, Rank 3

D. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur during the summer months of June, July, and August.

The top three locations that are high risk areas are:

A. Ball fields

B. Under trees

C. On Boats – Water Related

10. Lightning Myths

A. Lightning never strikes the same place twice – Empire State Building receives 22-25 strikes a year

B. Rubber Tires Insulate – Actually the shell of the car protects us and in fact lightning can jump 10-20 feet.

C. When boating need to seek shore – Not always the case, the trees onshore are actually more dangerous

D. Injured persons struck by Lightning carry a Charge – No, they can be handled immediately safely after the strike.


11. Lightning Safety

A. Lightning Safety Position or (LSP) – If you are caught in an open field the LSP position is crouch down, and put your head between your legs and stay LOW!!

B. Lightning Rod – To protect your house or personal property, you can install a lightning Rod to safely take the lightning bolt to the ground with burning or damaging your house.


Well that is it for now. I hope this was informative and interesting at the same time. I enjoyed researching this topic and then writing it and presenting to you. I know we all intrigued about thunderstorms, especially me but we have to be safe when in and around thunderstorms. If you are a photographer of severe weather of thunderstorms please take precautions when shooting your photos or storm spotters please report severe weather at a safe locale. Thank you, and for now Stay safe everyon, and Be good and enjoy the weather its the only weather you got. I leave you with another image

Image result for 4 parts of lightning initiation stepped leader, return stroke

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