I am offline for a bit, dealing with my real life issues, but wanted to share this before I loose my internet connection since the aftershocks of getting hit by lightning out of a clear blue sky in February (2014) are still reverbrating:
Positive lightning makes up less than 5% of all strikes. However, despite a significantly lower rate of occurrence, positive lightning is particularly dangerous for several reasons. Since it originates in the upper levels of a storm, the amount of air it must burn through to reach the ground usually much greater. Therefore, its electric field typically is much stronger than a negative strike. Its flash duration is longer, and its peak charge and potential can be ten times greater than a negative strike; as much as 300,000 amperes and one billion volts!
Some positive strikes can occur within the parent thunderstorm and strike the ground beneath the cloud. However, many positive strikes occur near the edge of the cloud or strike MORE THAN 10 MILES AWAY, where you may not perceive any risk nor hear any thunder.
Also, positive flashes are believed to be responsible for a large percentage of forest fires and power line damage. Thus, positive lightning is much more lethal and causes greater damage than negative lightning.
Some interesting properties of positive lightning:
- Positive lightning can be the dominate type of cloud-to-ground during the winter months and in the dissipating stage of a thunderstorm.
- Positive lightning has been identified as a major source for the recently discovered sprites and elves. Sprites and elves are most likely lightning discharges but occur from 18-60 miles (30-95 km) in altitude, well above the parent thunderstorm.
- Positive lightning is usually composed of one stroke (negative lightning typically consists of two or more strokes)
That’s the word from the National Weather Service. and running a billion volts through my body boggles even my mind.