Types of Strikes and Types of Lightning
Types of Lightning Strikes
There are several different types of lightning strikes:
- Cloud to ground — Negatively charged particles are drawn toward the positive particles on the ground.
- Ground to cloud — The same as cloud-to-ground lightning, except the strike is initiated by a usually a tall, earth-bound object rather than the cloud.
- Cloud to cloud — Similar mechanics to ground-to-cloud lightning, except the strike travels from one cloud to another
Types of Lightning
There are several different types of lightning:
- Sheet lightning — This is normal lightning that is reflected in the clouds.
- Heat lightning — This is normal lightning near the horizon that is reflected by high clouds.
- Ball lightning — A phenomenon where lightning forms a slow, moving ball that can burn objects in its path before exploding or burning out.
- Red sprite — A red burst of electricity that occurs about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above storm clouds. Shaped like carrot tops, crowns or even jellyfish, they're bright enough to see in daylight.
- Blue jet — Occuring early in a thunderstorm, blue jets are bright, blue sprays of electricity that originate in the center of a storm cloud about 25 miles (40 kilometers) above the ground. Sometimes blue jets are observed closer to the ground, and the sprays are shorter. These are called blue starters.
- Elves — Discovered in the early 1990s, elves are huge — 185-mile-wide (300-kilometer-wide) — halos of ring-shaped lightning, created in the upper, positively charged portion of the cloud.
In the next section, we'll learn about the purpose of lightning rods.