A Look at the Different Types of Lightning

Summer is the season for thunderstorms and the lightning they produce can light up the sky in a variety of ways. Here is a quick look at the different types of lightning.

While there are variations within each, these are the four primary categories:

Intra-Cloud: This is the most common type of lightning. It happens completely inside a single cloud, jumping between regions with different charges. It is sometimes called “sheet” lightning.

Cloud to Cloud: This is lightning that occurs between two or more separate clouds.

Cloud to Air: This type of lightning occurs when positive charges at the top of a cloud reach out to the negatively charged air around it.

Cloud to Ground: This lightning occurs between the cloud and the ground. It can be either positively or negatively charged.

While thunderstorms can be fascinating things to watch, is important to remember that all lightning is dangerous and strike locations are unpredictable. So, as NOAA recommends, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.”

Different types of lightning.  Credit: mshuntergi.com

Different types of lightning. Credit: mshuntergi.com