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Types of lightning: classification

CLOUD-TO-GROUND (CG)


It is the best know type of lightning, although not the most common. It is a discharge between a cumulonimbus cloud and the earth. It is the most dangerous type of lightning because it moves from the cloud to the ground and on impact can cause serious injuries to living beings and important damage in objects and properties.

Within the cloud-to-ground lightning as we all know them, a downward stroke from the cloud to the earth, there are different peculiarity:

Bead lightning

It is a type of CG lightning that is characterized by generating chain intersections of short, bright and longer duration sections than an usual discharge. It is a relatively rare phenomenon that, according to science, may be due to the variation of the beam width, which produces an illusion of more or less light in some sections of its route. It can be considered more properly a stage of a normal lightning discharge rather than a type of lightning in itself.

Staccato

It is a type of CG lightning of very short duration with very bright flash aspect and with numerous ramifications.

Forked lightning

It is the name given to the CG lightning that shows the ramification of its path, similar to the Staccato lightning but of greater duration.


GROUND-TO-CLOUD


This type of lightning consists of a discharge between the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud, with an upward strike. This is formed when negatively charged ions ascend from the ground and are in the cloud with positively charged ions. When they collide, lightning returns to earth as a trace. Usually, these lightnings are recorded in the vicinity of tall objects such as repeaters or skyscrapers. They constitute 1% of the total electric discharges of the planet.


CLOUD-TO-CLOUD


There are two types of cloud-to-cloud lightning, the lightnings that occurs between two separate clouds, called inter-cloud or cloud-to-cloud (CC); and lightnings that occurs within a single cloud, between areas of different electric potential, called intra-cloud (IC). Intra-cloud lightning is the most frequently occurring type.

 

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