Lightning Quiz

By: Staff

True or False: If you're caught in a thunderstorm, you should take cover under a tall tree, which will help disperse a lightning strike.

Tall objects attract lightning and being near a tall object (especially in an open area) makes you a target; you may very well be hurt or killed.

Lightning can cause the air around it to heat up by how many degrees?

These huge discharges of electrical energy can instantly heat the air to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit higher.

Compared to the surface of the sun, how hot is a bolt of lightning?

Believe it or not, lightning bolts are actually five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

What causes thunder?

The steep increase in air temperature cause the air to expand very quickly, resulting in a booming sound.

True or False: You can be struck by lightning when there are blue skies overhead.

A storm 10 miles away can zap you, even if the skies in your immediate area are clear and blue.

A lightning strike is made up of multiple fast flashes. How long does each flash last?

You can't see the multiple flashes in a lightning strike because each flash lasts less than a millisecond, too fast for our eyes to see.

How long does an entire lightning strike take to complete?

At 0.2 seconds, the strike is pretty much complete, even though there are multiple flashes with each strike.

A typical lightning bolt might have what sort of voltage?

At about 100 million volts, lightning is a demonstration of Mother Nature's extreme power.

Within a thundercloud, what causes electrical charges to build?

Ice particles whip around, bashing into each other and creating electrical charges.

How long could you illuminate a 100-watt light bulb using the electricity from a single typical lightning strike?

With 250 kilowatt-hours of energy, the strike could light up a single bulb for about three months.

What are the odds that you'll be struck by lightning at some point during your life?

You're much more likely to be struck by lightning than you might have thought.

What is the fear of lightning?

And because it's so common for people to be struck by lightning, your astraphobia is grounded in a real threat, not an imagined one.

In order to create fulgurites, a type of fused rock formation caused by lightning, the strike must be at least what temperature?

If the strike is 3,270 degrees Fahrenheit, it may create fulguries (or petrified lightning), especially in grounds filled with quartz sands.

True or False: Lightning is fairly predictable.

Lightning is an unpredictable event, making it challenging for researchers to study it in nature.

What do you call the series of negative charges that drop from a thunderstorm toward the ground, eventually causing a lightning strike?

The stepped leader "steps" its way incrementally toward the ground and is eventually met by a positive charge (streamer) that forms a channel for a lightning bolt.

In the U.S., approximately how many people are struck by lightning each year but live to tell about it?

Unfortunately, about 70 percent of lightning strike survivors report long-term effects, and sometimes those effects are very serious.

Of the lightning generated during a thunderstorm, what percentage strikes the ground?

Only about 10 to 20 percent of the lightning strikes the ground, the rest zips around in the clouds.

How many people in Britain die each year from lightning strikes?

A few dozen are hit and about three die annually.

About how many lightning strikes are there on Earth every second?

Our planet is sizzling with electrical activity, with around 100 lightning strikes happening every second.

At what speed does lightning strike?

At 62,000 mph, the tremendous speed of lightning flashes is the reason we see only a single bolt and not all of the discrete flashes that make up the strike.

What are "red Lichtenberg figures"?

People who are struck by lightning often wind up with temporary marks on their skin; the patterns often resemble tree branches.

How wide is a lightning bolt?

Lightning looks huge because of its power and brightness, but the bolts are often only as wide as your thumb.

Why do trees sometimes explode when they are struck by lightning?

The strike may vaporize the sap inside the tree, causing steam to build up and then … kaboom!

During his life, how many times was American Roy Sullivan struck by lightning?

"Spark Ranger" Sullivan was struck seven times … but died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In the course of a year, how many times does lightning strike the ground in the U.S.?

With 25 million annual strikes in the U.S. alone, well, now you know why the odds of being struck are 1 in 3,000.

The bottom of a thunderstorm has which kind of electrical charge?

The negatively charged storm particles are attracted to positively charged particles on the ground, and as the charges increase, lightning strikes.

Lightning that forms from the TOP of a thunderstorm is called what?

Because positively charged particles appear at the top of a thunderstorm, lightning that originates here is called positive lightning.

Compared to negative lightning, what is the strength of positive lightning?

Positive lighting is more powerful in part because of the longer distances it has to bridge, and it can occur with very few clouds, making it very dangerous to humans.

How many times per year is the Empire State Building struck by lightning?

On average, the building may be struck 100 times per year, but its protection systems divert the bolts to prevent damage.

How often does lighting strike in Arctic and Antarctic regions?

There are rarely thunderstorms in these regions, and thus, hardly ever any lightning.

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Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Electrical bolts from the sky are both beautiful and hazardous. How much do you know about lightning?

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