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How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: Rolando
Date: May 28, 2020 02:05PM
We had a thunderstorm last night, not much rain, but a whole lotta light. As I watched lightning bolts shoot horizontally across the sky, I notice they were not instantaneous, but would 15-20 degrees across the night sky in less then a second, but I could see them move from left to right or right to left.

I'm NOT asking how fast light travels, I could not find an answer on google as to how fast it goes from cloud to cloud. If it was lightspeed, it would be instant (to a human).

Anybody know?

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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: lost in space
Date: May 28, 2020 02:27PM
From what little I know about the behavior of static electricity, a bolt would travel in bursts, pulled along by the buildup of static charge. Slight delays could occur while charge builds, then each burst would travel at the speed of light. So it would be hard to put a number to it, since each situation would be different. Maybe a physicist who knows what he/she is talking about will chime in.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/28/2020 02:28PM by lost in space.
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: MEG
Date: May 28, 2020 02:48PM
What Lost said (covers both my knowledge base and understanding). I found a better explanation from a physics dept at Illinois:
The "leader", the first stroke of a lightning discharge, actually proceeds in steps -- lengthening by about 30 meters at a time, taking about a microsecond (one millionth of a second) to do each step. There is a pause between steps of about 50 microseconds. The whole process may take a few milliseconds (one-thousanths of a second), providing enough time to perceive motion.
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: S. Pupp
Date: May 28, 2020 02:55PM
The light travels from the lightning bolt to the viewer at the speed of light, but the lightning bolt itself is created by the movement of electrical charge, not by light, and is slower than the speed of light.

Per Wikipedia, the “return stroke” (“the most luminous and noticeable part of the lightning discharge“) travels at 100,000km/sec.
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: Rolando
Date: May 28, 2020 02:57PM
So if a bolt travels about 30 degrees of the sky in half a second (which I guess is the shortest time period I could perceive)

80 m/ms * 500,000ms works out to 40,000 meters?!?! 40 kilometers long lightning bolt?!?!?

Is that right?!?



San Antonio, TX (in the old city)


"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." - Eli Weisel

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - Theodore Roosevelt (1918)

"I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it." - Billy Graham 1981

"Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise" - Barry Goldwater
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: May 28, 2020 03:22PM
Is the lightning greased?
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: lost in space
Date: May 28, 2020 03:33PM
Where does the Lightning Cable go? Anybody know?



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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: May 28, 2020 04:39PM
Quote
Rolando
As I watched lightning bolts shoot horizontally across the sky, I notice they were not instantaneous, but would 15-20 degrees across the night sky in less then a second…I could not find an answer on google as to how fast it goes from cloud to cloud.

I found a lot of information on duckduckgo:

[www.nature.com]
"This 1-km jump appeared to occur in virgin air at a remarkably high effective speed of the order of 10^6 m/s"

[tinyurl.com]
"…the respective two-dimensional return stroke propagation speeds were 1.0 vs. 0.93 ×10^8 m/s for the positive (third) stroke and 1.0 vs. 1.0 ×10^8 m/s for the fourth stroke."

[tinyurl.com]

(I had to use tinyurl aliases for the academic links. The latter freaked out the forum for some reason.)



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/28/2020 04:46PM by Article Accelerator.
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: May 28, 2020 04:57PM
......warp......10.......



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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: SKYLANE
Date: May 28, 2020 05:30PM
Depends how it is traveling. By car? By airplane? or?
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: jh
Date: May 28, 2020 06:53PM


Looking at the video link, it reminds me of what we call "heat lightning".
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: btfc
Date: May 28, 2020 09:46PM
“ Is the lightning greased? “

I was wondering about that!


Also, was it European or African lightning?
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Re: How fast does lightning travel?
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: May 29, 2020 03:26AM


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