Q:

How far can lightning travel?

A:

Quick Answer

The longest lightning bolt ever recorded traveled a distance of 118 miles. The average length of most lightning strikes is said to be only six miles, although bolts have been known to travel up to 50 miles away from their parent storm.

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Full Answer

Lightning is the result of a complex interaction that takes place between the charged particles found in a thunderstorm. The vast majority of lightning strikes occur within 10 miles of their parent storms, although strikes can occur at much greater distances. A single lightning bolt can carry a charge of up to a billion volts and reach temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Does lightning strike up or down?

    A:

    According to the NOAA, the answer is that technically, lightning is a two-way phenomenon. The part that is visible to the naked eye goes from the ground back up to the sky, but only after a path of negatively charged electricity makes its way down from the clouds.

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  • Q:

    What causes red lightning?

    A:

    Red lightning is created by the excitation of nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere. It is produced above the clouds during storms. The red lights produced also are known as sprites.

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  • Q:

    How wide is lightning?

    A:

    The channel of a lightning bolt is only about the width of a pencil, or less than half an inch. However, a lightning bolt appears to be hundreds of feet in length and so bright because it has the optical equivalent of millions of light bulbs.

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  • Q:

    Where does thunder come from?

    A:

    Thunder comes from the rapid movement of air in a lightning bolt. Due of the speed at which lightning bolts travel, the surrounding air does not have enough time to expand. This compressed air creates a shock wave similar to an explosion, causing thunder.

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