By Jake E
What causes lightning ?
Lightning is a strong electrical charge that builds up in a few kinds of clouds. It all starts when raindrops freeze and turn into ice, they then bump into each other in the air. This creates an electrical charge and after a while the entire cloud is filled up with that charge.
The electrical charge also gets made underneath the charged up cloud, it is most commonly charge on tall things such as trees, people or mountains. Eventually the charged up cloud and the charged up item underneath the cloud join up and this is what we know and see as lightning.
In a storm cloud strong winds cause ice particles to bash into each other. The bigger particles stay at the bottom while the smaller particles drift to the top. While this is happening the smaller particles are getting positively charged while the bigger ones get negatively charged. As the negatively charged particles grow bigger it pushes away almost all of the negative charge on the ground because opposites attract and the same pushes each other away. The ground is left with mostly all positive charge and when the negative and positvie charges eventually come together they create lightning.
Roy Sullivan was a US park ranger that got hit by lightning seven times on seperate occasions, and he survived all of them ! He is recognised by the guiness book of world records as the only person who has been struck by lightning more than any other human being. He died at the age of 71 but it was not from lightning, it was from a self inflicted gun wound over an unrequited love.
What about thunder ?
Thunder is caused by lightning. The reason for this is that when the lightning hits the ground it makes a hole in the air and once the lightning is over air rushes in to the hole creating a sound we know as thunder. We hear the thunder after because light travels faster than sound. An interesting fact is that you can work out how far away a strom is by counting the seconds in between the flash and the thunder than dividing by three. This show the distance in km.
How To Stay Safe
If you can hear thunder you are usually within 16 meters of the storm and if your hair is standing on end you could be in trouble of getting struck by lightning. This is a short list of how to be careful with storms:
Don't use electrical appliances and stay off the phone. Unplug all power cords.
If you're outside stay low a ditch is also a good place to go don't go near tall things like trees or poles as they can attract lightning and if you are in a group you need to spread out.
After the thunder ends, wait atleast half an hour before leaving shelter.
Look for shelter, stay indoors.
Don't touch umbrellas or golf clubs as they can attract lightning.
If somebody has been struck by lightning immediately call an ambulance.