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Different Types of Lightning

Stephen Rampur Oct 21, 2018
The following piece of writing will provide detailed information regarding the numerous types of lightning bolts.
Generally, lightning can be seen by the human eye as a beam of white light, which appears and disappears in a blink of the eye.
It might seem exciting to some people but scary to many. It is actually an atmospheric release of electricity with sound (known as thunder), which is caused by a natural atmospheric process, mainly during thunderstorms in the rainy season.
A lightning bolt can travel at an unbelievable speed of 60,000 mph, and can reach temperatures of up to 30,000 degree Celsius. Lightnings have been classified by scientists and observers according to their physical and visual characteristics.

Cloud-to-Ground Lightning

This is one of the most severe, and unsafe type of lightning known to man. It is not so common, but is the best understood one. Whenever people see lightning, they think that it is released from the clouds to the ground.
A majority of such types arise from the bottom of the cloud, which is negatively charged, and travel to the ground that is positively charged.
There are some occurrences of this type, which also pass down positive charges to the ground. These are rare cases, and arise from the higher regions of a thundercloud. They are most likely to strike higher objects like the top of a skyscraper, tower, or a tall tree.
These lightnings can cause terrible damage to property, and can also start fires. They might also strike a person if he is the highest point in the path of the lightning bolt, which may cause serious injury or even death on the spot. This type of lightning is very well understood, as it leaves its life-threatening evidences behind.

Cloud-to-Cloud/Inter-Cloud Lightning

They take place between two different clouds, and don't touch the Earth's surface. They are sporadic in comparison to intra-cloud lightnings. They occur between areas of different clouds, which have opposite charges.
The strike travels through the air, which is present between the positively and the negatively charged points of the clouds.

Intra-cloud Lightning

In this type, the lightning occurs between sections of the same cloud that have opposite charges, such as a negative and a positive point in a single cloud. It seems like a flickering light spreading out in the cloud.
However, the lightning can extend itself from the cloud boundary, and a flash similar to the one in cloud-to-ground lightning may be visible.

Ball Lightning

It is a rare form of lightning, and is normally visible as a reddish lambent ball, but may have many colors. It seems to float, and is around one foot in diameter.
It may travel at varying speeds or remain stationary, and it also produces a crackling sound. It lasts from a few seconds to minutes, usually accompanied with a bang.

Ribbon Lightning

It is named after its visual appearance, and looks like a ribbon in the sky. It is a flash of light that is separated by many visible gaps, which is caused when the wind blows the lightning channel sideways during the exposure.

Bead Lightning

This type of bolt appears to disintegrate itself into a string of bright segments, which gives us a view of a bead-like appearance.
There are many other forms and types of lightning like forked lightning, anvil crawlers, bolt from the blue, sheet lightning, and heat lightning. If you ever get a chance to see any of them, make sure to take a second out to marvel at this beautiful spectacle of nature.