Taking a look at what causes upward lightning


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Showers and thundershowers moved through KELOLAND during the overnight hours and into this morning. While lightning usually puts on a good show, it would have been tough to repeat the act from Monday night.

While an upward lightning strike is uncommon, it obviously does happen. Lightning forms due to positive and negative charges in the atmosphere. Typically, the cloud top has positive charges with negative at the bottom. Once we get enough charges in the atmosphere, lightning strikes. Positive strikes come out of the top of the storm, the storm anvil. These are usually the more intense.

But, research has shown the upward lightning usually occurs in nearby positive cloud to ground lightning. The positive strike helps change the electric field for a brief time, allowing the upward leader of the strike.

While it’s exciting to watch and to get pictures and video of, keep your safety in mind too. It’s better to stay indoors when thunder roars.

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