Lightning Strikes

By Madison Hein

What causes this to happen?

Lightning can appear to be many different colors depending on what the light travels through to get to your eyes. In snowstorms, where it is somewhat rare, pink and green are often described as colors of lightning. Haze, dust, moisture, raindrops and any other particles in the atmosphere will affect the color by absorbing or diffracting a portion of the white light of lightning.

Lightning Strikes

Where does lightning come from?

Lightning comes from a parent cumulonimbus cloud. These thunderstorm clouds are formed wherever there is enough upward motion, instability in the vertical, and moisture to produce a deep cloud that reaches up to levels somewhat colder than freezing.These conditions are most often met in summer. In general, the US mainland has a decreasing amount of lightning toward the northwest. Over the entire year, the highest frequency of cloud-to-ground lightning is in Florida between Tampa and Orlando.

Why are positive lightning bolts deemed more dangerous than the more common negatively charged bolts?

Positive lightning is often considered more dangerous because its electrical field is stronger (forming at the top of the storm), the flash duration is typically longer, and its peak charge can be much greater than a negative strike. Plus, positively charged lightning can occur near the edge of a cloud or strike more than 10 miles away – when people aren't aware of the danger.