The Colors of Lightning

 The personality of storms.

     *Please be aware that lightning is absolutely lethal and you should practice proper safety measures and stay indoors during a thunderstorm. Do not try to replicate the actions and mistakes my friend and I did at home or outdoors. Thank you. 

     When I was about fourteen or so, I went on a camping trip over the summer with my grandma and some extended relatives. We normally go to a RV park or campsite, rarely out in a random spot. It was always so much fun! We would go out on flashlight hikes at night, made tie dye t-shirts, and had make-shift meals over our firepit. On one of the nights we were supposed to go on a flashlight hike, it started storming. There was a decent amount thunder, lightning, wind, and rain. My grandma had said that if the storm got too bad, we’d all pile up in her RV, and not to worry about the tents we had been sleeping in. I had been sharing a tent with one of my grandma’s friends’ daughter, and that night, since we were close enough to the storm, we thought we’d watch the sky for lightening. Growing up, we were always told not to stare at the sun or we’d go blind, but no one said anything about staring at lightning, so we were in the clear! Kid logic, I know. So, we snuck out of our tent, but stayed close enough to the entrance in case my grandma poked her head out to check on us, we could dive back inside. We could watch her silhouette from the windows on the RV to see if and or when she’d be coming. That night we stayed up late and saw many lightning bolts, but the one that still stuck with me to this day, was one bolt was pink. The sheer crack from that strike put pressure inside my ears. It was so loud, but extremely exciting to see! Teenage me didn’t know lightening could come in distinct shades like a crayon, and now I had to see if I could spot them all! Interestingly, there are a few known colors, and depending on the storm as well as other external factors, the hue can be lighter or darker. 

     The most dangerous type of lightning is Blue Lightning, or as it’s commonly referred to, a “Bolt from Blue”. The reason for this being that blue lightning doesn’t need to come from its original storm and it can strike far away ground freely at any time. The color in this lightning comes from the reflection of the sun’s light wave radiation and the refraction of particles existing within the atmosphere. You’re most likely to see blue lightning during storms with large amounts of rain with the possibility of hail.  

     Right next to Blue, is White Lightning. White lightning has the hottest temperature out of all the colors and is the bolt most responsible for starting various fires. The color of this bolt usually points to a low amount of moisture, and high amount of dust particles in the air. Now the temperature for lightning can easily hit upwards of twenty thousand degrees Fahrenheit, with the hottest temperatures being in the high fifty thousands. To put that in a bit of perspective, at its peak, that’s nearly six times as hot as the sun’s surface! 

     Yellow lightning is surprisingly a bit more uncommon, and is usually spotted when there is an elevated level of dust present. It can also warn of an arid storm with small amounts of rain. It wouldn’t be unusual to see Yellow and White lightning together, but be very cautious! 

     Purple, and also Pink lightning, suggest high levels of both humidity and rain. Both of these colors also generate louder thunder, and are a bit more common to spot. Keep in mind, that the color of the lightning might not necessarily have to do with the effects of the storm. They’re highly probable, but there’s also another explanation, which is light wavelengths. Light itself is comprised of various different wavelengths, each associated with a different color. Not all light wavelengths are visible to the human eye, mind you, and the ones that are are the only part of electromagnetic waves we can see. The color red has the longest wavelength, and therefore travels the farthest. Which is why sunrises and sunsets usually start off with shades of red. The color purple, or violet, however has the shortest wavelength. When all the waves of light reflect back to us, we see the color white. The reason this is relative, is because when a lightning bolt strikes, it’s accompanied by a discharge of visible electromagnetic light, which our eyes pick up on. 

     Now as interesting as this all is, I’m not a scientist, nor an expert. I cannot tell you which is which for every storm that occurs, or every bolt you might see. It would be interesting to see more colored lightning, since it is very beautiful in pictures for those who were able to capture it. Nonetheless, I hope you had fun reading this, and hopefully you learned something new! Remember to stay safe during the next thunderstorm, and have a wonderful upcoming week! 

     Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog! If you’d like to know where I got some of my information, I’ve included the links below! 

Information obtained and used in this blog were from the following sites:

I’d also like to thank my husband for proof-reading my work! Thank you, you rock!

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