Climate and Weather

Air Phenomena

How hot is lightning?

The temperature of the air around a bolt of lightning is about 54,000°F (30,000°C), which is six times hotter than the surface of the sun, yet many times people survive being struck by a bolt of lightning. American park ranger Roy Sullivan (1912–1983), for example, was hit by lightning seven times between 1942 and 1977. In cloud-to-ground lightning, its energy seeks the shortest route to Earth, which could be through a person’s shoulder, down the side of the body, through the leg, and to the ground. As long as the lightning does not pass across the heart or spinal column, the victim usually does not die.


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