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Different Types of Lightning

Updated on December 5, 2014
Types of Lightning
Types of Lightning | Source

In olden times, people believed that the causes of different types of Lightning are by imaginary demons. Some others believed the Witches and angry Gods are the reason for the Lightning strike.

During the period 1749-1752, Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning conductor. We all know his kite experiments of the character of lightning with the electric spark.

This innovation is one of the decisive points of reasoning which connected with all natural wonder. It gave an inspiration to logical inquiry into the laws of nature.

Now, the findings available enable us to check the size of the mass involved. And much has obtained from laboratory and field work in safety of property.

The main source of lightning is the well known summer thunderstorm. Which gains its name from the sounds following from its electrical discharges.

Lightning has also seen in the dust steam. And gas clouds emerging from volcanoes also in the desert's dust clouds. And in clear skies from charged bodies of air which wandered near each other or near the earth.

Also, there are soundless luminous discharges within cloud layers. These clouds observed at all times of the year, especially in areas where thunderstorms are rare.

Lightning | Source

Types of Lightning

The most well known type is streak lightning. Differences of this, but, not specific types in themselves.

They are ribbon, rocket and bead lightning and also forked and zigzag lightning.

Other types more rarely observed than streak lightning. They are ball (globular) lightning and sheet lightning.

Streak Lightning.

Streak lightning shows a white or pink path. Resembling small diameter of an inch to a foot. And of a length which may be from a fraction of a mile to a few miles.

The path often forked, with wide aftermaths. It depends upon the shape of the discharge.

While in others, it comes into view as a lone streak, the spread forks being undetectable. A thunderstorm streak lightning may occur within a cloud or between separate clouds.

And between clouds and earth. Or between a cloud and surrounding air. The lightning accompanied by thunder of high or low strength.

In some cases its duration is short. Although there is a large fluctuation in the duration and power of streak lightning flashes.

Ribbon Lightning
Ribbon Lightning | Source

Ribbon Lightning.

Some flash of streak lightning surfaces as more or less separates parallel streaks. The name ribbon lightning has stated by reason of its image.

Which seems to be an apt justification given by photographs of lightning flashes. It has shown that most streak discharges follow several discharges.

They have intervals between discharges. The path may change by the wind through some distances. Thus, several consecutive discharges deposed in space.

It may on account of persistence of vision appear as parallel streaks.

Rocket Lightning .

The name Rocket lightning relates to streak discharge. Often seen the growth is so slow on looks like a rocket.

It may appear between clouds and earth within clouds or between clouds and surrounding air. In some cases at least it has seen between clouds and upper atmosphere.

Bead Lightning

In this the path of the lightning visible as a string of bright globes or beads divided by darker intervals. It is rarely observed. Especially noted in sound forms.

Several explanations of this rarity have offered. One is that it is due to changes of the way of the discharge about the line of sight.

Another that stria of cloud impenetrable portions of the path. A third is that it is a blend of a streak and globe lightning.

Globular Lightning.

The name globular lightning related to the second specific type. It consists of the bright globes or globular form masses.

Now and then, seen during thunderstorms. It move along the land about things resting on the floor. Or through the air in a manner quite strange to the observer.

These globes seem in some cases to burst with a loud sound and cause grave damage. They held by some optical delusion arising from prolonged existence of vision.

Which causes one can see a globe of fire in any position. Toward which the eye directed after a certain bright flash of streak lightning.

This details can hard to accept. But, in view of many study where continuance of vision did not seem to be a factor.

It exists on rare occasions. It is more than brilliant brush discharge moving along a path of low insulating strength.

In the storm's electric field at once go before or following streak lightning. Which would account for the clear bang.

It is now known that the electric fields of thunderstorms are of adequate strength to form such discharges. Especially in the course of greatest electrical activity.

Sheet Lightning Strike

Sheet Lightning.

Sheet lightning is well identified from the brightness of streak lightning. And by its prolonged existence and its slow variation of intensity.

The proper term is, the silent discharges observed in clouds. The cloud create a third different type of lightning.

These discharges emerge as somewhat like the brush discharge of the laboratory. But they are of white in color and vast in size.

In some cases great areas of the sky glow in some moments. And sometimes enough brightness arrest our attention. The proper usage of the name is significant. Because the discharge visible as a sheet although it is a volume effect.

They esteemed from the aurora. By the fact that it takes place in the cloud layers. Whereas the aurora noticed, only in the upper atmosphere where clouds do not form.

The wonder may noticed at times in winter on cloudy nights. It also occurs at other times of year. Especially in areas where streak lightning is rare in the wake of cyclonic thunderstorms.

The term Sheet lightning is also more popular as beat lightning. It is wrong applied to the brightness arising from streak lightning.

The source is invisible on account of cloud banks. Or being below the perspective and so faraway that the thunder can not heard. Or comes too late to connect in the mind of the viewer with the brightness.

Forked Lightning.

This form to the extending of the streak discharge at its bottom end. In some cases which results in its striking two or more objects at the same time.

Thus two trees or a tree and a house some distance away may damaged by the same stroke.

Zigzag Lightning.

This refers to streak lightning which assume a most curve paths. In some cases because of the interaction of the line of sight to the path it pop up called a loop.

Such lightnings present distinct images from different places of observation.

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      For those who live in winter states, how do you feel when you hear lightning when there is a snowstorm? Have seen this and am amazed at these when they happen. Can't see the lightning, but can feel the rumbling.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image


      4 years ago from British Columbia

      Lightning is beautiful to watch, but it can cause much damage. Almost every lightning storm we have in the summer causes a fire in the dry forests in western North America.


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