Have you ever rubbed your feet against carpet and touched metal and got zapped and wondered “Is that what lightning is?” Well that is exactly what it is except on a much bigger scale… and no feet! Before we move on to real lightning I am going to tell you about a different types of lightning. I’ll give you 2 clues…

CLUE 1 - it changes colour
CLUE 2 - it makes a hissing noise!

If you guessed a ball of lightning you’re CORRECT.
A ball of lightning is a very rare form of lightning and also explosive! When it explodes it creates a super loud noise
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Lightning comes in many different colours. When it hails lightning is blue and normal lightning comes in yellow and white. Thunderstorms happen mostly in summer. Hot water rises and towers into Cumulonimbus clouds. Inside each cloud water droplets and ice crystals collide and create electrical charges. Electrical flows between charges create a flash that heats the air around it. Lightning is so hot it makes the air expand around it making a loud noise or thunder clap. Cloud to cloud lightning is called sheet lightning and cloud to ground lightning is called fork lightning.

Cloud to ground lightning is made by negative charges in a cloud striking positive charges in the ground. Tree sap is a good conductor for cloud to ground lightning.

Cloud to cloud lightning is formed by a very strong positive charge in one cloud and a very strong negative charge in another cloud. The positive energy strikes the negative energy in the other cloud.



How is lightning formed?

In a thundercloud there are many bits of ice that move around and then bump into each other. Lightning is formed by electrical charges. A thundercloud is usually called a cumulonimbus and grows vertically. At the top of the cloud contains positive charges and at the bottom of the cloud there are negative charges. Within a cumulonimbus cloud there are negatively charged electrons that zig zag down to the earth. The earth contains positive charges and they can draw upwards through high objects such as a tree, tall building or even a cricket player on a field. As the negative charges get closer to the ground, suddenly both charges meet and then create a powerful flow of electricity that we know as lightning. The light we see are the positive charges moving upwards. The heat from the lightning changes the air and makes a noise that we call thunder.

Safety: During a storm with lightning it is best to not go boating, fishing or go to an open area, such as a cricket field and try not to go on the phone. In a storm with lightning, it is best to stay in an enclosed building but if you are on a road far away from an enclosed building then it is best to stay in your car as long as all the windows and doors are shut and the car has a roof.