Fulminology | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Jennifer Wojcicki
Updated: Jan 21st 2022


The shocking truth about Fulminology!

Here are some lightning facts:

  • It hits Earth about 50x a second
  • that’s +1 billion times a year (wish I had a dollar for every THAT that happened…)
  • and it lasts less than a second!

How intense are lightning bolts?

  • a strike is about 2-3 miles long (twice the size of the world’s largest cruise ship!)
  • and 5x hotter than the sun, about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • they carry 10,000 amps and 100 million volts (to give you some insight- you only need 50 volts to fry YOU)
  • the odds of being struck in a single year are about 1 in 700,000, which is a higher probability than winning the Powerball jackpot!
  • the idea that “lightning never strikes the same place twice” is a myth- it can strike the same place as many times as it wants. Case in point: the Empire State Building gets struck an average of 23 times per year.

What types are there?

The most common types that we see are cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud strikes, but there are some phenomenal less common types!
Bolt-from-the-Blue: still a cloud-to-ground lightning strike, but it gets its own category as it originates from the highest region of a storm cloud. It’s unique in that it first travels horizontally away from the storm cloud before making its decent to the earth, which can be up to 20 miles away, making it appear in locations under clear, blue skies. 
Red Sprites: these actually occur above a storm cloud, move upwards, and are reddish in color. They’re also cooler than normal “below the cloud” lightning strikes.
Ball Lightning: This is a phenomenon that has been described as an illuminating sphere that floats during thunderstorms, often with randomized movement and sound. This particular type of lightning only exists by word of mouth as there is no photographic proof.


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