15 votes

Weak flashes of light in the sky

You were most likely seeing lightning (to be sure, a date/time and your location would be necessary). Lightning can be visible from quite a distance and storms can be incredibly active with lightning ...
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7 votes
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Why is thunder and lightning rare, even though it rains frequently?

Rain in a climate such as Ireland is most often stratiform. That is, it is created when moist air is lifted by a front, or by divergence in the upper troposphere. Thunderstorms involve buoyant air, ...
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  • 96
6 votes

Large Scale lightning Strikes from Cloudless or Near Coudless Skies. How Does it Work?

Revised answer TL;DR After having just heard from two experts who actually work in this field(firestorms and dry lightning) in Australia I believe the lightning seen is what is known as "dry ...
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  • 6,277
6 votes
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Photo of sprites in a clear dark sky, how is this possible?

According to this Wikipedia entry Sprites occur at altitudes between 50 and 90km while the thunderstorms that create them generally top out below 16km so there is a minimum of more than 30km of height ...
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  • 4,225
6 votes

Weak flashes of light in the sky

While I wouldn't rule out that you were witnessing distant lightning lighting up the clouds below, or at some distance anyhow, there is also the possibility of the flashes being upper-atmospheric ...
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  • 2,105
6 votes
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Is Cape Canaveral really the lightning capital of the US?

It's pretty likely. Florida has the highest lightning strikes of anywhere in the US, as can by seen by this map from lightningsafety.com This is the area near Florida, with the highest levels. It's ...
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6 votes

Why does Volcano Lightning occur?

From my knowledge, lightning is formed when a static charge develops between ice particles in a cloud, and the charge is neutralized via an electric strike to the ground. In a volcanic cloud, there is ...
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  • 302
6 votes
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Why don't lightning strikes cause a lot of injury or damage to property?

Annually, about 51 people die from lightning strikes per year in the United States. Part of the reason is the low probability of being hit by lightning. Tornadoes, hail, and straight line winds sweep ...
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5 votes

Are there websites where I can get "lightning frequency maps" in near-real time (worldwide)?

Absolutely: The Blitzortung project has near real-time data for most if not all of the world. I've also never taken the time to research how lightning detectors exactly work, but it's likely similar.....
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5 votes
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What is the core of the lightning?

I found the paper you initially referred to here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JB073i006p01889/full based on the hyperlink by the xkcd webpage you referred http://www.agu.org/pubs/...
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5 votes
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How are lightning and thunderstorm intensity linked?

Is the ratio of IC to CG lightning relevant? Yes. Primarily, severe storms tend to have very few cloud-to-ground (CG) strikes. Thus, the ratio of IC:CG is likely going to be very high.1 2 However, ...
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  • 1,950
5 votes

Why does Volcano Lightning occur?

The discharges are due to the charged particles carried aloft by the plumes rising from or shot from a volcano. The plumes may be dominated by positive charge but usually it also contains regions of ...
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5 votes

Should I worry about copper pipe outside attracting lightning strikes?

The easiest thing to do to make your copper pole safe would be to ground it and disconnect the lights from your house wiring when they aren't in use (if they are plug-in lights and not solar). This ...
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  • 151
4 votes

Are there websites where I can get "lightning frequency maps" in near-real time (worldwide)?

Here is another one -Lightning hits across the world You can also look at the TRMM lightning sensor data for older periods - Lightning Sensor Here is another site that shows world wide lightning ...
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  • 6,277
4 votes
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What is the best way to stay safe while photographing lightning storms?

Yes, most storm chasers are risking their lives to take lightning photos. Your likelihood of being struck is obviously higher the closer you are to where lightning is originating from. However, ...
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4 votes

How to count lightning in a thunderstorm?

There are many types of devices used for measuring lightning. The first natural radio wave receiver was also the first lightning detector invented by Alexander Stepanovich Popov. In 1896 Popov ...
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4 votes
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Did Dark Lightning turn out to be a real thing? Is this what produces gamma ray flashes from lightning storms?

According to the American Geophysical Union and reported at phys.org: Dark lightning is a burst of gamma-rays produced during thunderstorms by extremely fast moving electrons colliding with air ...
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3 votes
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Should I worry about copper pipe outside attracting lightning strikes?

Any build up of static electricity in the ground will seek to connect with opposite charge in a storm cloud, and will spark through the line of least resistance. Any high metal structure, whether it ...
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3 votes

Are clouds needed for lightning?

As far as I know; no. Lightning can either come from large amounts of friction in the atmosphere, or from a discharge of built up energy sourced from space (primarily solar radiation) captured by ...
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  • 131
3 votes

Lightning activity day curve - why it has high and narrow peak?

I think the simple answer to your question is that sunlight widens the potential area for storms by producing a better convective environment, whereas nocturnal storms are highly localized based on ...
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  • 416
3 votes

Why does upwards lightning use only one path but downward lightning uses multiple paths?

Upwards stroke happens when the stepped leader and the traveling spark have already connected. This path then becomes much more conductive than any other paths where the connection hasn't happened yet—...
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  • 406
3 votes
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Continuous lightning for over an hour; is this phenomenon common and does it have a name?

In Norwegian we call it kornmo (grain ripener); it happens in the late summer at a distance of more than 20 km so there is no sound. The English translation is: "sheet lightning - heat lightning - ...
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  • 1,830
3 votes
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Why did Hurricane Harvey have so much lightning associated with it?

The storm and basics: Here is an animation I got from this NOAA Tweet of the lightning in Harvey hours before landfall: This link, where I found the imagery, offers some basic thoughts, including the ...
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2 votes

Can ionospheric plasma disturbances effect the weather?

Apparently it is possible for the ionosphere to influence the conditions in the lower atmosphere. The following are relatively recent results from a paper in 2009, and a summary and up-to-date state-...
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2 votes

Can a lightning strike ionise the material it strikes?

There are Fulgurites. Fulgurites are formed when lightning strikes the ground, fusing and vitrifying mineral grains.
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1 vote
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What voltage and/or amps cannot be found naturally?

The maximum voltage which can possibly occur depends on the materials involved and the distance. When the breakdown voltage of an insulator is exceeded, the electric potential difference is large ...
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  • 146
1 vote

Why don't lightning strikes cause a lot of injury or damage to property?

Unlike storms and floods, lightning strikes a single point. So the area directly affected by lightning is small in comparison. Another thing to consider is that when you see lightning, that does not ...
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  • 12.7k
1 vote
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Where can I find detailed historical breakdowns of U.S. lightning fatalities on a year-by-year basis?

For a comprehensive literature review of sources of lightning fatalities data you can check the paper "Striking Back: An Assessment of Lightning related Fatality and Injury Risk in Canada", it covers ...
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  • 17.1k
1 vote

What percentage of cumulonimbus clouds create lightning?

I've done some research studies about the flash rate in various storms. My paper is now in review, but here is some info from this paper: We have computed measurements for supercell and moderate ...
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  • 105

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