16 interesting facts you probably don't know about thunder and lightning

Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 9:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 10:00 am

The weather is set to be dramatic, with heavy downpours, thunder and lightning forecast.

All three of these weather conditions are associated with humidity, which has lately been a common occurrence.

It’s widely known that thunder and lightning comes as a package, and that thunderstorms result from a change in atmospheric conditions, but did you know these 16 facts about thunder and lightning?

Thunderstorms result from a change in atmospheric conditions (Photo: Shutterstock)

1. In temperature terms, lightning bolts are around 29,982°C (54,000°F), which is roughly five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

2. The most thundery place on Earth is believed to be Tororo, Uganda, where it thunders 251 days a year.

3. Lightning-strike victims are temporarily covered in what’s known as Lichtenberg figures, which are red branching, tree-like patterns created by the passage of high voltage electrical discharges along the skin.

4. Lightning kills around 2,000 people each year, so it’s always advisable to stay inside during storms, hence the phrase 'when thunder roars, go indoors'.

5. A thunderstorm named ‘Hector the Convector’ forms over Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory, Australia, from approximately September to March every year.

6. An average lightning bolt can release enough energy (around 250 kilowatt-hours) to operate a 100-watt light bulb for more than three months straight

7. Thundersnow is an unusual kind of thunderstorm where snow falls as the primary precipitation instead of rain.

8. The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 12,000

9. Astraphobia (the fear of thunder and lightning or being struck by lightning) is the third most common phobia in America

10. Lightning flashes more than 3 million times a day worldwide (about 40 times a second). Not all those flashes hit the ground, as some happen between or inside clouds.

The most thundery place on Earth is believed to be Tororo, Uganda, where it thunders 251 days a year (Photo: Shutterstock)

11. In 1955, a thunderstorm in Belgium set off 40,000 pounds of buried explosives left over from the WW1 battle of Messines, with the only casualty being a single cow.

12. Lightning strikes more than 100 times per hour over an intersection of the Catatumbo River and Lake Maracaibo in northwestern Venezuela for more than 300 nights a year, often flashing several times a second.

13. The average thickness of a bolt is around 1-2 inches.

14. In 1977, a huge thunderstorm over New York City led to a major blackout, allowing residents of the city to see the Milky Way Galaxy.

15. In ancient times, philosophers such as Aristotle believed that thunder was caused by the collision of clouds.

16. Lightning can occur during a volcanic eruption, creating what is called a ‘Dirty Thunderstorm’.