It’s that time of year again in most the United States when we start to see warming temperatures and that means a lots of thunderstorms. We see the flash and then hear the rumble of thunder as we witness the power of our planet’s weather system.
Although many of us have experienced a thunderstorm, few truly understand what’s going on out there when lightning strikes. It’s quite clear why it would be difficult to determine exactly what’s going on when a thunderstorm produces lightning, after all, lightning happens in a split second. Thankfully, there are lots of people out there studying storms and using high speed cameras to slow everything down, this helps us get a clearer picture of what’s happening. One of those people is Tom A. Warner, a photographer who has captured some amazing footage of lightning, among many other things.
Lightning occurs when a storm becomes electrified. As the storm moves over an area, it’s negative charge causes the ground around it go become positively charged. This build up and difference in electrical charge is why lightning occurs. What’s even more interesting is that the lighting doesn’t just come lying out of the cloud, at least not initially. A Stepped Leader (-) begins to make it’s way down from the cloud as streamers (+) move upward from the ground. When the streamer meets the step leader then connection is complete and we see the resulting discharge as lightning. In the video above you can clearly see the Stepped Leader searching for the best path for the lightning to take.
Anything can produce a streamer towards a storm cloud, it’s usually a tall object but even you could be producing one. What’s worse is you could become part of the circuit and bam, you’ve been hit by lightning. That’s why it’s important to follow safety guidelines if your caught in a storm