July 13, 2009

Amazing Amounts of Lightning

There were nearly 35,000 lightning strikes over the area over the 48h period ending this morning around 7:30 AM. Pretty amazing. The graphic above is from the national lightning network-- a series of sensors that can receive the electromagnetic pulses produced by lightning.

You will notice there is positive and negative lightning strikes indicated. Most cloud to ground strikes are negative, and only a small proportion are positive.


  1. I saw a horizontal lightning strike yesterday around 7 p.m. I was looking to the west and I caught a glimpse of the strike at about 35 degrees on the horizon.

    How common is this type of lightning? I have never seen this before.

    Thunder followed about 20 secs post flash.

  2. What is "positive" and "negative" lightning?

  3. positive is the good vibe lightning. Negative is the downer complainer lightning.

  4. Cliff,
    Is it possible for you to provide a link to that amazing lightning map? Of course, understood if it's proprietary. Thank you for the great education.

  5. Pretty cool map, Cliff. I too would like to see the link to that lightning map so that us weather folks can see the current strikes on that map. Maybe you can provide the link like bob was asking? :o)

  6. Most cloud-to-ground strikes are negative, and a much less common number are positive. The only difference between the two kinds is the reversal of polarities in the cloud base. Normally the negative
    charge collects in the cloud base, with a corresponding net positive charge in the ground under the cloud. Lightning strikes originating from this
    configuration are negative strikes.

    But if the cloud base becomes positively charged relative to the top of the cloud, the ground below then assumes a net negative charge, and any
    lightning that develops will be a positive strike.

    The lightning data is not available for general acquisition. It is very proprietary...cliff

  7. We were woken up at 6:43 am with a huge thunder clap. And for the next half hour here in Chehalis lots of local activity, time between lightening and claps was frequently a second. My kids were up on Mt Rainier at the same time, and heard a little thunder, but mostly clear skies. Rob

  8. Positive Current has more of a potential of starting a fire. About 80% more or so. Another reason lightning maps are not available to the general public, especially the ones that can give a lat and lon,is for fire bugs IE arsonist. They could create confusion at a point of origin. Though for the most part we can tell if it was lightning or man made.

  9. Shocking image. Very cool.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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