Does Lightning Travel Up? Or Down?

Tools

By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - It travels in both directions, really. In a cloud-to-ground strike, an electric charge from the cloud starts coming down, and gets about 2/3 the way toward the ground.

At that point, a return stroke of opposite charge will race up from the ground and meet the original charge, creating a channel where the electricity can flow back and forth several times until the charges have been neutralized.

So the short answer is that the lightning collides in mid-air between the cloud and ground. However, you can have cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-air lightning too, so it can really travel in any direction.

Your Photos

YouNews The Twelfth Cat! The Twelfth Cat!
Here's the Twelfth Cat. The perfect companion to warm your lap during a game. He's deaf, so he's never startled by your yelling, he thinks he's a dog and he was born with Seahawks colors.
YouNews Sunset In Magnolia Sunset In Magnolia
Just after taking a stroll in Discovery Park, I was able to snap this incredible scenery with my iPhone just 5 minutes before the glow gave-in to night.