Lightning is a natural phenomenon involving very high quantum of destructive energy. The lightning
cannot be prevented. Effective and reliable protection is the only solution.
Lightning is generated by circulating winds and water molecules in a thunder storm cloud. The
circulating winds are essentially low intensity air currents. These low intensity air currents can only
dislodge the electrons from the water molecules in the thunder-storm cloud. As a result of the removal
of electrons from the water molecules, two charged masses of opposite polarity are created within the
cloud, i.e., the cloud now becomes charged or polarized. The two charged masses of opposite polarity
strive to attain equilibrium resulting in a lightning.
One form of lightning is where a discharge takes place from the negatively charged portion to the
positively charged portion within the cloud. This is commonly known as an intra cloud lightning.
Occasionally, the charged mass from the base of a cloud moves towards earth in steps. This stream of
charge is known as natural down streamer and it induces a charge of opposite polarity at any sharp
points on the earth's surface. The sharp points on the earth send out their own upward streamers. Since
the two streamers (down streamers and upward streamers) are opposite in polarity, they are attracted
towards each other. When these two streamers meet, the air gap between the cloud and the earth
breaks down, resulting in the cloud being literally wired to the earth. All the energy in the cloud flows
down this corridor to the earth and this is termed as lightning. This energy can be of the order of a few
hundred mega joules and it hits the earth in a few microseconds.
It is important to note that for any given downstream from the cloud, there can be many up streamers
going from the earth's surface (depending on the number of sharp points in that particular area)
Whichever up streamer manages to establish contact with the downstream first, will route the lightning
strike to the point where the up streamer has originated. It is also pertinent to note that this entire
phenomenon occurs in a few milliseconds and is invisible to the human eye.
In view of the above, it is almost impossible to predict when and where a lightning will strike. Hence it is
imperative that we are adequately prepared at all times to protect ourselves against these dangerous
To know more on the topic and to talk to our experts please write us at [email protected]