A stroke of lightning only takes about 1/2 of a second to occur. There are two key ideas associated with the process of lightning stokes. They are termed as stepped leaders and return strokes. There is also a dart leader. With these three, the path of a lightning bolt can be covered from the place where it leaves the cloud to its connection with Earth.
|A stepped leader is a very faint discharge of lightning inside a cloud. These discharges move toward the ground in series of steps; each step down is about 50 yards long. When the leader steps down to Earth and connects to the ground or a tree (for example) the circuit is complete and the lightning strikes.|
A return stroke is a lightning stroke that originates from the ground. The stroke travels back to the cloud.
A dart leader happens when electrons are discharged, taking the initial path of the lightning stroke to the ground. This means that
lightning can strike the same place more than once. Lightning has favorite sites to strike and is capable of following the same
path twice, contrary to what some people believe.
When Does Lightning Occur and Why?
Where Does Lightning Strike?
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