Breakdown: How the 2nd most deadly natural phenomenon is formed

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Mid-South has seen a lot of rain and thunderstorms recently, and those storms have produced a considerable amount of lightning.

Lightning strikes the Earth 3 billion times a year, and cloud to ground lighting is the second most deadly natural phenomenon.

Here's the breakdown of how lightning is formed. It is a result of static electricity that builds within a storm cloud as it moves through the atmosphere.

Updrafts and downdrafts allow the mixing of cold air where ice crystals are found and warm air where water droplets are found to mix and create an electrical charge within the cloud.

The top of the cloud is typically positively charged and the bottom or lower portion of the cloud is typically negatively charged.  It's just like a battery with one end charged positively and the opposite end charged negatively.

As the static electricity builds within the storm cloud, the energy must be released and to an area with the opposite charge.

Sometimes that takes place within the cloud, and sometimes it takes place with the energy being released from the cloud to the ground.

Now that you know how lightning is formed, you might be interested to know that heat lightning doesn't really exist. Or perhaps you're wondering if it can thunder without lightning?

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