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# How many volts are in a lightning bolt?

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According to the National Severe Storm Laboratory, a single lightning bolt can have 100 million to 1 billion volts, and it contains billions of watts, depending on whether it is positive lightning or negative lightning. Lightning strikes ground in the United States approximately 25 million times each year.

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Credit: Eric Kilby CC-BY-2.0

Positive lightning, which comprises less than 5 percent of all lightning, originates on top of the clouds, rather than the lower portion of the storm, as negative lightning. These type of lightning can travel up to 25 miles horizontally in the air before they strike the ground and are sometimes called "bolts from the blue." Because of the greater distance to the ground, they develop much higher voltages.

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## Related Questions

• A:

The Watts formula, P=V x I, shows the relationship between volts, amps and watts. The "P" signifies power in watts, "V" denotes voltage in volts and "I" stands for the current in amps. This formula is used in electrical calculations and can be used in conjunction with Ohm's law.

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• A:

Lightning is caused by an electric current inside a thundercloud that connects with the ground beneath the cloud. Lightning occurs when tiny pieces of ice start bumping into one another as they travel through the air. The collisions of ice generate an electric charge inside the cloud.

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• A:

Lightning is usually white, but it can be a variety of colors depending on what the light travels through to get to the viewer’s eyes. In snowstorms, lightning can appear pink or green. Particles in the atmosphere affect the color by absorbing or diffracting a portion of the white light.