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July 29, 2009

Lightning

A weather front rolls in from the horizon, storm clouds darken the sky, and (at least 1.3 billion times a year) lightning strikes. Last month, the National Weather Service promoted their Lightning Safety Week, with information designed to call attention to safe practices, helping people avoid lightning strikes which kill an average of 100 people every year. While the exact nature of the initial formation of lightning remains a subject of debate, what is known is that lightning strikes are caused by electrical imbalances present in the clouds. Those imbalances correct themselves suddenly, with an often spectacular light show - which I've tried to show here, with a handful of recent photographs of lightning from around the world. (26 photos total)

Lightning lights up the sky behind City Hall as a line of thunderstorms moves through Athens, Ga. Thursday morning, June 18, 2009. Over 4,000 people lost power in Northeast Georgia during the storm. (AP Photo/The Athens Banner-Herald, Kelly Lambert)

Flashes of lighting illuminate the sky during an overnight summer storm over Croatia's Adriatic port of Pula on July 10, 2009. (REUTERS/Nikola Solic) #

Lightning strikes behind the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, on Thursday, April 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Port Clinton News Herald, Jonathon Bird) #

Lightning strikes behind two F/A-18C Hornet aircraft on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, in the Pacific Ocean on April 8, 2009. (Mass Communication 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio/U.S. Navy) #

Tentacles of lightning cover the sky over Voyle's Field early Thursday morning, June 18, 2009, in Galesburg, Illinois. Strong storms blew through western and central Illinois, breaking tree limbs and knocking out power for thousands of residents. (AP Photo/The Register-Mail, Bill Gaither) #

The steeple of the 190-year-old Medway Community Church in Medway, Massachusetts burns after being struck by lightning on July 1st, 2009. Firefighters were able to douse the fire, limiting damage to the steeple only. (Jim Smith, Assistant Fire Chief of Medway Fire Department, for the Boston Globe) #

Bolts of lightning illuminate the night sky of Montevideo, Uruguay as a thunderstorm unfolds over the Uruguayan capital on July 5, 2009. (MARIANA SUAREZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

In this picture taken Saturday, June 27, 2009, storm clouds gather and lightning strikes over the Houses of Parliament in London during a break in the hot weather. (AP PhotoPhoto/Lewis Whyld/PA) #

Lightning strikes through storm clouds over Agua volcano in Antigua, 32 km (20 mi) from Guatemala City, Guatemala on July 4, 2009. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria) #

Lightning above Lake Lecco, Italy, seen from nearby Monte Marenzo on July 2006 (Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License from photographer Marco Uberti) #

Lightning strikes over the Beijing skyline during a thunderstorm early on July 12, 2009, near the city's tallest skyscraper, the China World Trade Center Tower 3. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images) #

Lightning strikes a tower near the space shuttle Endeavour resting atop launch pad 39A during thunderstorms at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 10, 2009. NASA canceled the July 11, 2009 launch attempt of the Endeavour to assess possible damage from the nearby lightning strikes. (REUTERS/Gene Blevins) #

Lightning strikes over the Moscow River and Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, late Wednesday, July 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

Lightning illuminates the sky and reflects off the buildings of Bangkok on June 13, 2009. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Lightning flashes during a thunderstorm over Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicles on the U.S. army's Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank in Logar Province in Afghanistan July 18, 2009. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov) #

Flashes of lighting cut through clouds in the sky over Pula, Croatia on Friday, July 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic) #

A U.S. Marine watches as lightning flashes on the horizon during a search operation for Taliban on March 25, 2009 near the village of Bakwa in remote southwestern Afghanistan. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Lightning touches the ground in rural Cherokee County, Kansas, early Tuesday morning, June 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Carthage Press, John Hacke) #

A vein of lightning strikes beyond the Flagler Pier in Flagler Beach, Florida, as a summer storm rolls south on Saturday, July 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Daytona Beach News-Journal/David Massey) #

Lightning strikes above aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, under way in the Gulf of Thailand on April 8, 2009. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Husman/U.S. Navy) #

At sea aboard USS Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 2, 2002, lightning fills the horizon, and lights up the flight deck and air wing aircraft parked on the ship"s forward elevator and bow. (Lt. Troy Wilcox/U.S. Navy) #

Lightning strikes over a suburban neighborhood of Prague, Czech Republic, during an overnight storm July 17, 2009. (REUTERS) #

Lightning streaks the sky behind the Federal Territory Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 24, 2009. (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images) #

Lightning strikes over a ridge as a storm passes though Death Valley National Park in California just after sunset July 21, 2009. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus) #

Lightning illuminates the sky during a thunderstorm over the Swiss Federal Palace in Bern, Switzerland on July 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Michael Buholzer) #

A closer view of the Swiss Federal Palace in Bern, Switzerland, during a July 17, 2009 thunderstorm. (REUTERS/Michael Buholzer) #

 
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