Storm Smarts: Interesting Facts about Thunder and Lightning
When you catch that flash of light from beyond your window followed by a screeching craaaack from the sky, you know thunder and lightning have arrived (and made quite an entrance as well). Both elements of storms can intimidate even the most impervious warriors with its massive raw power and unparalleled display of energy. But like most things, you only fear that which you don’t know, so get yourself informed (and hopefully a little entertained) with these lesser known facts about thunder and lightning.
- At any given moment, between 1800-2000 thunderstorms are rumbling and rattling.
- Lightning should really be called lightnings: what you see is actually three or four smaller bolts called re-strikes.
- If lightning strikes a beach, the sand it hits turns into glass.
Near-vertical view of thunderhead from space
- Every second that passes between a lightning strike and subsequent thunder equals the distance– about 1000 ft– you are from it. If you even hear thunder, you are within a danger zone!
- Actually, you have as much a chance of dying by lightning as dying from falling out of bed. (That would be 1 in 2,000,000.)
- Lightning can strike the same place twice; in fact, its patterns are so unpredictable, it will strike where and how often it wants.
- Thunder and lightning aren’t always inseparable pals: it’s possible to hear thunder when it snows.
- Lightning is only about an inch to two inches in diameter!
- If you find yourself outdoors, you better hope your clothes are wet: a lightning strike would do less harm that way.
- The Aztecs believed lightning opened the earth for the dead to make their way into.
- Florida is considered the Deadliest State in the country: lightning hits twice as many people there as in any other state.
- The webs created by a plasma globe mimic lightning, but use certain gases (usually neon) surrounding a high-voltage center. Plus, they’re much safer than standing in an empty field during a thunderstorm.
A typical plasma globe
A close up of a single energy arc in a plasma globe
Nature can be one violent beast, but it sure fascinates us in all its untamed glory and endless supply of did-ya-know trivia. Thunder and lightning, we are awestruck.
Sources: Interesting Facts About Lightning, Flash Facts About Lightning, Stormwise Lightning Facts