How Fast Is Lightning?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 14, 2020 12:39:22 AM ET

A bolt of lightning travels at approximately 224,000 miles per hour or approximately 3,700 miles per second. Lightning is a discharge of static electricity that has accumulated as a result of collisions between ice particles in storm clouds.

The speed of a bolt of lightning changes slightly with atmospheric variables such as temperature, pressure and humidity. The flash is the only characteristic of lightning that travels at the speed of light, which is approximately 186,282 miles per second or 670,616,629 miles per hour.

The discharge of static electricity can result in many different types of individual lightning bolts. The types of lightning bolts are variations of cloud-to-cloud lightning and cloud-to-ground lightning, such as forked, heat, sheet and ball lightning.