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Lightning UPSC | Natural Disaster| Contemporary Issues | Geography of India

What is lightning?

  • Lightning is a rapid and massive discharging of electricity in the atmosphere.
  • Light is caused by the accumulation of charges in clouds.
What are thunderstorms?
  • Thunder means shockwave sound comes after lightning strikes.
  • Rain with lightning and sound is called a thunderstorm.
How lightning occurs:

  • During the development of the thunderstorms, the air current move upwards, and water droplets move downwards. These movements cause the separation of charges. By these processes, positive charges accumulated above the edge of the cloud, and negative charges accumulated near the lower edges.
  • There are positive charges accumulation in the ground generally over the vegetation.
  • Although air is a poor medium of electricity transmission, however, the accumulation became very large, and the air is no longer able to resist its flow. Negative and positive charges meet and produce bright light and sound. It is called lightning; the process is called electric discharging.
  • 10 % of lightning also occurs without clouds.
Types of lightning:
  • Intra-cloud or withing cloud lightning
  • Inter-cloud or between cloud lightning
  • Cloud to ground lightning

Lightning death reports:
As per the Climate-resilient observing systems promotion council( CROPC),
  • The highest lighting strick experienced in Orissa
  • More than 50 % of lightning death occurs in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, and Jharkhand.
  • Rural India comprises 96 % of death

Lightning safety;

Lightning is a disaster and it causes more than 2000 death per year in India. It can be avoided as the Indian metrological department can predict before 30-40 minutes.

The following are not safer places:

  • No open space is safe.
  • Hearing thunder is an indicative alert to reach a safer place.
  • House and building is a safer place
  • Inside a car with closed windows is a safer place.
  • Open vehicles Like bikes, tractors, open cars, etc.
  • Open field, tall tree, Park shelter.
  • Elevated place


  • If you are in the forest, take shelter under shorter trees
  • If you are in the field; stay away from all the trees; do not lie on the ground, 
  • Mobile and wireless devices are safe, but wired electronic devices are not safe to use while lightening
  • Avoid touching running water and bathing.
  • The computer, TV, etc should be unplugged. 
Try to solve the following:
  • Describe the origin and development of thunderstorms with examples. (UPSC 2014, 200 words, 15 marks)

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