Interesting Lightning Facts
Interesting Lightning Facts

31 Electrifying Lightning Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published December 31, 2020
  • In 1752, Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity by flying a silk kite in a thunderstorm. He saw sparks shoot from a key on a ribbon he was holding.[4]
  • Lightning tends to strike tall structures, which is why it's dangerous to seek shelter under tall trees in a storm.[4]
  • Lightning always takes the easiest path from cloud to ground.[4]
  • A storm is about one mile away for every five seconds difference between hearing thunder and seeing a lightning flash.[4]
  • As a lightning bolt flashes, the air expands at supersonic speed, making the sound of thunder.[4]
  • The air around a lightning bolt is five times hotter than the surface of the Sun.[4]
  • Lightning Heat
    Just how hot is lightning?

  • Lightning is the visible discharge of static electricity from a cloud.[4]
  • Thunder can be heard up to 25 miles away from the initial lightning strike.[6]
  • Lightning kills over 20 people per year in the United States and injures hundreds more. Survivors often suffer lifelong neurological problems.[6]
  • Lightning victims do not carry an electric charge; the human body does not store electricity.[4]
  • Lightning strikes the Empire State Building about 25 times a year.[3]
  • Lightning can and often does strike the same place twice.[3]
  • Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.

    - Mark Twain

  • Lightning can strike even if the sky is clear and it's not raining. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to be dangerous.[3]
  • While lightning heats the surrounding air, a lightning bolt itself doesn't have a temperature.[3]
  • The average width of lightning is about 2–3 cm. The average length is about 2–3 miles.[2]
  • A single lightning bolt can strike more than one place at the same time. Double—and triple—lightning strikes are common.[3]
  • On October 22, 2017, scientists recorded a lightning "megaflash." The jolt spanned over 310 miles (500 km) and spread across 3 states. Typically, lightning bolts travel between 0.6 miles and 20 miles (1 and 20 km).[2]
  • Keraunophobia is the fear of lightning.[3]
  • The largest lightning bolt ever recorded spanned 418 miles (673 km).[2]
  • Lightning record
    It occured on October 31, 2018, in Brazil

  • Two types of lightning strikes exist: negative strikes and positive strikes. Positive strikes are about 5 times more powerful than negative strikes.[1]
  • The odds of getting struck by lightning are about 1 in 500,000.[5]
  • While lightning occurs throughout the United States, the southeastern states are most at risk for strikes.[5]
  • Lightning can send electricity through metal pipes and metal reinforcements to concrete floors and walls.[5]
  • Florida is considered the lightning capital of the United States, with over 2,000 lightning injuries in the last 50 years.[5]
  • While lightning can strike any time during the year, lightning casualties are highest in July.[5]
  • Two-thirds of all lightning strikes occur in the afternoon, between noon and 6pm.[5]
  • Crazy Lightning Facts
    Not safe anywhere
  • One-third (32%) of lightning injuries occur indoors.[5]
  • Men are five times more likely to be struck by lightning than women. In fact, 85% of lightning fatalities are men. The majority of deaths occur among whites.[5]
  • About 10% of people who are struck by lightning die, mainly due to heart attack. Other lightning injuries include blunt trauma, skin lesions, burns, and neurological syndromes.[5]
  • An average lightning instance lasts about a quarter of a second and consists of 3–4 strikes.[5]
  • In terms of occupation, construction workers and farmers are the most likely to get struck by lightning.[5]

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