Interesting Facts About Lightning and Thunder


It's a powerful electric discharge, an astonishing flash of light with the deafening thunder following it. Lightning is quite a common phenomenon that is very dangerous and destructive, though, so make sure that in a thunderstorm you are in a safe place, for example, at home. But what else do you know about lightning bolts? People have studied lightning for a long time but have begun to make discoveries very recently, and so many things are still to reveal! Here you'll find the most interesting, amazing, sometimes even scary or funny facts about lightning that you might not know. For example, what is the temperature of lightning? What is the voltage and amperage of a lighting strike? Is it dangerous for planes?

Top 15 Amazing Facts

(Curious? Click on any element to discover more!)
Earth is not the only planet in the Solar System where lightning occurs — it has also been detected on Jupiter, Venus, Uranus, and Saturn.
Planes all over the world get struck by lightning almost daily. Every aircraft is hit by a bolt of lightning on average 1-2 times per year. But thanks to lightning protection covering all over the plane, the crew, passengers, and equipment are safe.
The longest lightning bolt ever recorded is about 768 kilometers! It was detected in 2020 in the south USA.
The lightning voltage ranges from several tens of millions to a billion Volts, while the amperage can reach 100 thousand Amperes!
The longest single flash of lightning was recorded in 2020 in Argentina. It had been lasting 17.1 seconds!
Although a chance of a lightning strike hitting a person is very small, Roy Sullivan has been struck seven times in his lifetime and stayed alive. He was even enlisted in the Guinness World Records for this.
Lightning strike (return stroke) travels at an incredible speed of up to 100 thousand kilometers per second. This is only three times less than the speed of light.
In addition to the usual lightning bolts we are used to seeing, there are also blue jets, elves, and sprites. These types of lightning occur in the upper atmosphere, and their duration is much shorter.
In Russian, most people mistakenly call a widespread lightning protection system ''thunder rod'' (gromootvod). In fact, the right term for this will be "lightning rod", which makes more sense.
Overall, about 1.4 billion lightning strikes occur on the entire Earth during the year. That's about 44 flashes per second! Thanks to satellites, we can track them.
The temperature of the lightning can reach up to 30 thousand degrees Celsius. For you to compare: the Sun's surface temperature is 5.5 times less.
According to various sources, there are about 240,000 incidents of lightning strikes every year in the world. About 2,000 people are killed annually.
A lightning strike is less dangerous for a human than is commonly believed. If timely help is provided, the mortality rate does not exceed 10%.
When lightning hits a dry tree, it usually ignites. As for the wet one, a temperature spike results in instant water evaporation. Then the water vapor literally explodes the tree from the inside, splitting it along the fibers from the roots to the top.
The entire history of aircraft engineering knows three official plane crashes caused by lightning: Il-12 in the USSR (18 dead), L-1649 in Italy (69 dead), and Boeing-707 in the USA (81 dead). It's been more than half a century ago since all these crashes took place.
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  1. RinaFeb 14, 2024 15:52
    It's an impressive phenomenon, I can understand why ancient people started to believe in gods. Even now, some things are hard to comprehend, even though they are well-studied.
  2. KannanDec 10, 2022 19:17
    It is a pity that it is impossible to collect energy from lightning effectively. Huge amount of clean energy!