Q:

Does lightning strike up or down?

A:

Quick Answer

According to the NOAA, the answer is that technically, lightning is a two-way phenomenon. The part that is visible to the naked eye goes from the ground back up to the sky, but only after a path of negatively charged electricity makes its way down from the clouds.

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Full Answer

Negatively charged particles come down from the clouds in a series of bursts, and positively charged particles rise up to the top of tall objects, attracted by the above negative energy. When the two charges meet, a channel is developed through which lightning travels. The process occurs in about one-millionth of a second, too fast for the human eye to see the strike forming.

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Related Questions

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    How far can lightning travel?

    A:

    The longest lightning bolt ever recorded traveled a distance of 118 miles. The average length of most lightning strikes is said to be only six miles, although bolts have been known to travel up to 50 miles away from their parent storm.

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    Can you have thunder without lightning?

    A:

    Thunder is caused by lightning, so it cannot happen independently. The loud cracking sound of thunder occurs when lightning raises the surrounding air temperature by thousands of degrees, causing it to rapidly expand and compress, according to SciJinks.

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    How does lightning start?

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    How can lightning affect you?

    A:

    According to Katherine Neer of HowStuffWorks, there are several ways a person can be affected by lightning, each with different impacts. Direct strike, wherein a cloud-to-ground lightning directly hits a person or something he is holding, is the most fatal. In this case, the full impact of lightning courses through the person’s body.

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