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LIGHTNINGNATURES FIREWORKS WHAT IS LIGHTNING The action of rising and descending air within a thunderstorm separates positive and negative charges Water and ice particles also affect the distribution of electrical charge Lightning results from the buildup and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas The average flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months Most lightning occurs within the cloud or between the cloud and ground Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600000 but could be reduced by following safety rules Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors Most lightning casualties occur in the summer months and during the afternoon and early evening The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50000 degrees F hotter than the surface of the sun The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave that results in thunder Many fires in the western United States and Alaska are started by lightning In the past decade over 15000 lightning-induced fires nationwide have resulted in several hundred million dollars a year in damage and the loss of 2 million acres of forest Lightning is responsible for less of the deaths from natural disasters than tropical cyclones tornadoes and floods However this is from long-term averages It can be seen that deaths due to lightning has been steadily decreasing This is due to a better understanding of lightning and improved detection and forecasting techniques in the National Weather Service One hundred million feet per second is the quickness of the lightning streak through the sky No wonder the flash is difficult to watch from beginning to end it starts and stops at almost the same time Lightning travels 90000 misec nearly 12 the speed of light 100000 times faster than sound and therein lies the reason thunder is heard after the flash is
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