Lightning is a massive electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions within clouds, or between a cloud and the Earth’s surface. The charged regions within the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves through a lightning flash, commonly referred to as a strike if it hits an object on the ground.
There are three primary types; from a cloud to itself (intra-cloud or IC); from one cloud to another cloud (CC) and finally between a cloud and the ground (CG). Although lightning is always accompanied by the sound of thunder, distant lightning may be seen but be too far away for the thunder to be heard.
Lightning occurs approximately 40–50 times a second worldwide, resulting in nearly 1.4 billion flashes per year.
A bolt of lightning can travel at a speed of 45km/s or 160 000km/h and can reach temperatures approaching 28 000°C, which is hot enough to fuse soil and turn sand into glass.
This CG lightning strike was captured by PWL chaser Matt Fricker just south of Serpentine on 20 Feb 2013 ©Matt Fricker Photography/perthweatherlive.com