Lightning, the underrated killer

By Grant Dade - bio - email

Every second on Earth around 45 bolts of lightning occur. That amounts to a staggering 1.4 billion flashes of lightning per year. Of these total bolts about 20%actually hit the Earth's surface meaning there are nearly 280 million cloud to ground or ground to cloud lightning strikes each year. With a tremendous amount of electricity, an average of one terawatt or one trillion watts per bolt, and an extremely high temperature, around 50,000°F, it is no wonder lightning is such a great threat to life and property. The greatest know loss of life from one lightning strike was in Brescia, Italy in 1769 when 3000 people lost their lives because lightning struck a church containing 100 tons of gunpowder that resulted in a huge explosion destroying a sixth of the city(source Wikipedia). To see how lightning strikes are distributed around the world, take a look at the image below. Notice there is a great concentration of lightning near the equatorial regions of the world where thunderstorms are very common. The lightning capital of the US would be the peninsula of Florida where 6 to 9 months of the year sea breeze fronts collide across the center of the State causing thunderstorms to develop most afternoons.
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