Ask Josh Fitzpatrick: Lightning Facts

It's that time of year. A time for thunderstorms! Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick answers how hot is lightning and what causes thunder, along with many other lightning facts.

It was stormy at times as we ended the first week of April. Thunderstorms with vivid lightning and loud thunder probably shook your house or knocked out your power!

Here are a couple photos that were taken from across the region of the lightning.

Here's lightning over Boyd County, Kentucky.

Here's lightning over Ashland, Kentucky.

Pictured below is the lightning over Jackson County, West Virginia.

This weather phenomenon has fascinated man kind well before Ben Franklin discovered that lightning is actually electricity when he flew a kite into a thunderstorm in June 1752. Since that discovery, we now know a lot more about lightning but there are still some things we don't know. 

Let's go over a few of those facts:  Believe or not as many as 100 lightning bolts strike the earth each and every second.  Lightning is about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit or about five times hotter than the surface of the sun!  With those extreme temperatures cutting through the atmosphere, the air rapidly expands and causes a shock wave of sound which we call thunder.  Usually lightning is no larger than an inch in diameter, or about the width of your pinky finger and can strike as far away as 10 miles from the main thunderstorm.  An average of 87 people are killed each year in the United States but that's only about 10% of people who are stuck are killed.  The odds are, you have a better chance of being hit by lightning than hitting the lottery.  Lightning can and sometimes does strike twice in the same spot.

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Post your weather questions and or comments below.  I may use them in a future Ask Josh weather blog.

Thanks for reading and keep checking back for updates.

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