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Monsoon 2020: Everything you need to know about lightning

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TUCSON - It's the first week of Monsoon 2020. Naturally, lightning storms may catch residents eyes when the storms begin to roll into town.

First let's talk about how lightning forms. As a thunderstorm develops, there are millions of collisions between liquid, ice and hail which create an electrical charge. The positive charges move to the top of the thunderstorm and the negative charges move to the bottom of the thunderstorm.

Positive charges also rise from the earth as the thunderstorm goes through its life cycle.

Lightning's purpose is to maintain the earth's electrical balance and it likes to do it fast. The stepped leader drops from the cloud, trying to find the quickest way to reach the upward streamer, which rises from the ground. As soon as the two meet, they complete the circuit and create the lightning strike.

Now that we know how lightning forms, here are some facts. Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and can get as hot as 50,000 degrees. The width of a bolt of lightning is no bigger than the size of your pinky finger. Also, after a flash of lightning, count until you hear the thunder. Five seconds is usually one mile.

Last but not least, lightning safety is very important. The best thing you can do is check the forecast.

If thunderstorms are in the forecast, plan accordingly and know where your safe spot will be. It is also important to stay in your safe spot for at least 30 minutes after you heard thunder.

Remember when thunder roars, go indoors.

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Shea Sorenson

Shea Sorenson is the morning meteorologist at News 4 Tucson. Tune in for your forecast from 5 AM to 7 AM and at 12 PM Monday through Friday.

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