In a sandstorm, is there a buildup of static electricity? If so, does that produce lightning strikes? Also if you were to be inside the storm what would the build of that level of static feel like?


Sandstorms occur in dry areas, particularly deserts. The sand particles are fairly uniform in size. As the dry sand moves due to the wind it begins a leaping process known as saltation. Quoting the Wikipedia article:

the initial saltation of sand particles induces a static electric field by friction

The sand particles become polarized and as the particles begin to hit each other the polarization on each grain gets rearranged and the degree of polarization doubles with each interaction. With a build up of static electric charge lightning can develop.

The greatest build up of static charge occurs in sandstorms of intermediate thickness.


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