why do we have thunder and lighting

Have you ever got a static electricity shock? Or seen sparks
when you take off your jumper? When lightning is made the same thing happens, but on a much bigger scale. How does lightning form? Lightning is an electric current. To make this electric current, first you need a cloud. When the ground is hot, it heats the air above it. This warm air rises. As the air rises, water vapour cools and forms a cloud. When air continues to rise, the cloud gets bigger and bigger. In the tops of the clouds, temperature is below freezing and the water vapour turns into ice.

Now, the cloud becomes a thundercloud. Lots of small bits of ice bump into each other as they move around. All these collisions cause a build up of electrical charge. Eventually, the whole cloud fills up with electrical charges. Lighter, positively charged particles form at the top of the cloud. Heavier, negatively charged particles sink to the bottom of the cloud. When the positive and negative charges grow large enough, a giant spark - lightning - occurs between the two charges within the cloud. This is like a static electricity sparks you see, but much bigger.

Most lightning happens inside a cloud, but sometimes it happens between the cloud and the ground. A build up of positive charge builds up on the ground beneath the cloud, attracted to the negative charge in the bottom of the cloud. The ground's positive charge concentrates around anything that sticks up - trees, lightning conductors, even people! The positive charge from the ground connects with the negative charge from the clouds and a spark of lightning strikes. Go to to see how you can make your own lightning.

No, it is not possible to have lightning without thunder, according to NOAA. Thunder is a direct result of lightning. If you see lightning but don't hear thunder, it is because the thunder is too far away. Sometimes, people refer to this as heat lightning because it most often, but it is no different from regular lighting. A lightning bolt can have 100 million to 1 billion volts of electricity, and contains billions of watts, according to NOAA. (Volts measure electrical potential how much energy you get per unit charge; watts are units of power and measure how much energy is transmitted per second. ) That amount of energy can heat the air between 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit (9,982 degrees Celsius) and 60,000 F (33,315 C).

What we see as actually comes from the ground up, according to NOAA. Typically, a cloud-to-ground flash lowers a path of (invisible) negative electricity towards the ground. Objects on the ground generally have a positive charge, and because opposites attract, an object about to be struck sends out an upward streamer.

When these two, oppositely-charged paths meet, they send a return stroke zipping back up to the sky. It is this return stroke that produces the. But it all happens so fast - in about one-millionth of a second that the human eye doesn't detect the actual formation of the lightning bolt. What is a Dry Thunderstorm? Got a question? to Life's Little Mysteries and we'll try to answer it. Due to the volume of questions, we unfortunately can't reply individually, but we will publish answers to the most intriguing questions, so check back soon.