ODPEM Government of Jamaica
Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
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Types of Lightning

There are four common types of lightning:

  1. Intracloud Lightning:
The first type, and the most common, take place inside a cloud and is called an intracloud lighting. This type of lightning is veiled by the cloud mass and may lead to what is sometimes called “sheet lightning.” While impressive, this type of lightning is harmless as far as its possible threat to humans and impact on the earth’s surface.
  1. Intercloud Lightning:
The second type of lightning strikes from cloud-to-cloud, usually at very high altitudes, and is called intercloud lightning. These bolts of lightning between clouds can easily be seen as they zig-zag from cloud-to-cloud. This is of no danger to humans on the ground, however, they may become hazardous to aircrafts.
  1. Cloud-to-Ground Lightning:
The third type of lightning, and the one that is the most feared, is the cloud-to-ground lightning, which hurtles to the earth from the dark skies. It may be reassuring to know, however, that by the time we hear the thunderclap, the immediate danger has already passed.
  1. Ground-to-Cloud Lightning:


The last lightning type, which closely resembles the cloud-to-ground lightning, is the ground-to-cloud lightning, also referred to as triggered lightning. Favourable places for triggering this type of lightning are high mountain peaks, tall television towers, radio towers and skyscrapers.

Did You Know …

You can estimate the distance of a lightning stroke by counting the distance between the flash and the thunderclap. Each second indicates about 300 metres. If you can count fewer than five seconds, take shelter - lightning is near!



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