Some thundery facts:
– Although the causes of lightning as still debated amongst scientists, it is generally thought that it is the result of a mass release of static electricity that has built within large cumulonimbus clouds.
– A single lightning stroke can reach temperatures of up to 20,000 Deg. C. This rapidly heats the air around it causing an immediate and intense increase in air pressure around the bolt. The thunder we hear after a flash of lightning is this narrow ribbon of compressed air exploding outwards.
– At any one time, there is an average of 20 lightning strikes hitting the earth’s surface each second.
– Most lightning bolts (around 80%) that occur globally are ‘inter-cloud’ (IC) or cloud to cloud (CC), which means they never strike the earth’s surface
A single lightning bolt can be up to or even above 3 km in length
– The long rumbling sound we sometimes hear after a flash is the caused by sound waves from different points of a lightning bolt reaching our ears.
– General rule of thumb is that the louder and shorter the sound of thunder is, the closer the lightning strike occurred.
– Java, in the Indonesian islands, records an average of 220 thunder days a year, making it the most thundery place in the world (Source: UK Met Office)
– Fear of thunder is known as ‘Brontophobia’.
Thunderstorms in Ireland
In Ireland, a typical small thunderstorm will last between 15 – 60 minutes. Larger storms, which occur far less frequently, can last much longer.
– On average, any one area in the county will experience thunder and lightning on between 4 & 7 days of the year with Straide, in Co. Mayo recording an average of 10 thunder days per year (Source: Sweeney, Martin. ‘Climate of Straide’ 2000.)
– At inland locations, thunderstorm activity typically peaks in July and August. Coastal regions on the other hand with experience thunderstorms with regular frequency throughout the year.
– Notably thundery months in Ireland include July 1964, June 1986 and August 2000
– We don’t get near enough thunderstorms in Ireland!