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 Planets By Day Planets By Day
Images of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury (as well as the Sun)
were all taken around noon on Saturday. Planets were taken
using eyepiece projection with a Meade 6 inch refractor.
The sunspots were used to aid in focusing the (daytime)
planets.