Clouds can be mysterious, beautiful and serene. Sure, they may look innocent, but they’re actually very active. When clouds are the most exciting, they are busy creating some amazing lightning effects. What forms lightning anyway? You may have learned about it in school as a child, but you may not recall how exactly lightning is formed.
“Water and ice move around inside the cloud; forced up by warm air currents, down by gravity, and compressed in the cloud. Just as rubbing a balloon can create static electricity, the particles in the cloud become charged. It’s not clear how it happens, but charges separate in the cloud. Positive charges move up, and negatives move down,” according to Science Made Simple.
Separating Facts from Fiction
As it turns out, there are a lot of myths circulating around about lightning. For example, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) says that it’s a myth that if it’s not cloudy or raining, that people are safe from lightning. Because in reality, whenever you can hear thunder, it means lightning is close by. Typically, lightning will strike within 10 miles of the center of a thunderstorm, according to the ESFI.
Another myth is that when someone is struck by lightning, they’ll carry a charge and you should not touch them. The ESFI says that lightning travels about 220,000,000 mph and will have left the person’s body by the time you get around to approaching the victim. Check the person’s pulse and if you can, render first aid. Be sure to call 911 immediately!
And one final myth before we end off: It is a myth that if you’re struck by lightning while in a car that the rubber tires will protect you from getting hurt. If your vehicle is struck, it’s not the rubber tires that protect you but the metal frame that protects you. If the occupants of a vehicle avoid touching anything that can conduct an electrical charge, the charge will pass through the frame and into the ground, thereby protecting the occupants, so it’s not the tires after all!