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What is Lightning?

Lightning is a gigantic electric spark traveling between cloud and earth. It's energy level is difficult for most to comprehend. A single lightning flash may be on the order of 30 thousand amperes, 200 million volts, and will take place within 30 millionths of a second. Short circuits in normal 15 amp house circuits cause fires as we all know. Compare this with current and voltage values 2000 and 100,000 times that of the average circuit, respectively.

Lightning discharges are commonly referred to as "hot" or "cold" bolts. The difference is in the amount of power dissipated and the length of time it takes for this dissipation process. "Hot" bolts have higher current values and longer duration times, thus easily igniting combustive materials. "Cold" bolts on the other hand are characterized by low current values, high voltage and short duration times; thus producing the violent shattering effect.

Many lightning flashes consist of multiple discharges, making this well known natural phenomenon nature's most destructive force.

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