Positive lightning is a rare form of lightning that carries a positive charge to the ground, rather than the negative charge that is usually associated with lightning. This type of lightning can fall over very long distances and with formidable power, making them extremely dangerous. It is often much more powerful than normal lightning, reaching up to a billion volts of power.
Lightning is believed to be caused by a separation of electrical charges in a storm cloud. It typically emerges from the negatively charged base of a leader-shaped storm cloud, which encounters a positively charged streamer coming from the ground. When the two are connected, the result is a discharge of electricity from the cloud to the ground, causing a characteristic trail of light.
In the case of a positive lightning, the charge comes from the top of a positively charged storm cloud and connects to a negatively charged streamer. This lightning can travel 10 kilometers (16 miles) to encounter a negatively charged streamer, releasing an explosion of positively charged energy back to Earth. It is often associated with human activities, in particular rocket launches and testing of nuclear devices.
Since positive lightning is a unique phenomenon, special care must be taken to protect objects such as aircraft, as the protections that are normally effective against lightning are unnecessary. People are also warned to be wary of this phenomenon, which tends to hit harder during heavy storms and at the end of a storm. As a general rule, it’s a good idea for people to stay indoors for about 30 minutes after a storm, which allows the storm to recede and reduces the risk of being struck by lightning.
This type of lightning can travel great distances, so it is not as predictable as other forms of lightning, making it more dangerous. It can also travel from cloud to cloud, also great distances, and can sometimes establish a connection to the ground after traveling this way. The result can be what is called “lightning”: lightning when the weather is good.