How Wide Is Lightning?

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.

The air temperature in the core of a lightning bolt is estimated to be a staggering 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. There are an estimated 1.4 million flashes of lightning each year on Earth. Lightning is typically produced from cumulonimbus clouds with a base 1 mile above ground and a top 9 miles above ground. The main types of lightning discharges take the form of being either cloud to ground, cloud to cloud or cloud to air.