Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms. In the atmospheric electrical discharge, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 220,000 km/h (140,000 mph), and can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels known as fulgurites which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground. There are some 16 million lightning storms in the world every year.
01. Lightning strikes near the town of Searchlight, Nevada as the first storm of the season passes through the western deserts of the United States in the early hours of June 8, 2006. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
02. Photographers Mike Meadows (L) and Al Simmons are silhouetted as they photograph lightning strikes near Searchlight, Nevada as the first storm of the season passes through the western deserts of the United States in the early hours of June 8,2006. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
03. Lightening bolts are seen above a young couple sleeping on beach of the village of Vama Veche, 300 km (186 miles) east of Bucharest, on the Black Sea shore June 19, 2006. The small fishing village of Vama Veche has been a non-mainstream tourist destination even during Romania's communist era. Picture taken June 19, 2006. REUTERS/Mihai Barbu
04. Lightning flashes behind the Mandalay Bay Resort during a thunderstorm in Las Vegas, Nevada July 17, 2006. The Luxor Hotel and Casino is at right. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
05. Lightning flashes over the Moscow Kremlin, early May 24, 2007. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov
06. Lightning is seen over south Mumbai's skyline before the first pre-monsoon showers May 31, 2007. REUTERS/Arko Datta
07. Lightning strikes over a construction site during a heavy storm in Bucharest July 11, 2007. REUTERS/Mihai Barbu
08. Lightning streaks across the sky as lava flows from a volcano in Eyjafjallajokul April 17, 2010. An Icelandic volcano that is spewing ash into the air and wreaking havoc on flights across Europe appeared to be easing up on Saturday but could continue to erupt for days or even months to come, officials said. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
09. An armoured vehicle from the Centurion Company, 2-1 Infantry Battalion, 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team is framed by a bolt of lightning during a storm at Combat Outpost Terminator in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province April 19, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
10. Lightning strikes near the Hilton Hotel during a storm in Mexico city May 23, 2010. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar
11. Lightning strikes over Bangkok May 24, 2010. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
12. Lightning strikes just south of the McCarran International Airport air traffic control tower in Las Vegas, Nevada, during a powerful thunderstorm early September 2, 2003. Pictures of the month September 2003 NTRES REUTERS/Ethan Miller
13. Lightning strikes in Poyang county in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, July 20, 2010. Much of China has been suffering flooding and landslides after weeks of torrential downpours. At least 146 people have died since the start of this month, as a result of the rains, and another 40 are missing. REUTERS/Aly Song
14. Lightening strikes the ground during a thunderstorm in Budapest June 10,2009. REUTERS/Viktor Veres
15. Lightning strikes near the space shuttle Endeavour resting atop launch pad 39A during thunderstorms at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida July 10, 2009. NASA canceled the July 11, 2009 launch attempt of the Endeavour, on a construction mission to the International Space Station, to assess possible damage from the nearby lightning strikes, officials said. Launch was reset for 7:13 p.m. EDT (2313 GMT) on Sunday, July 12. Photo taken on July 10, 2009. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
16. Lightning strikes behind an apartment building during a thunderstorm in Zurich late July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
17. Lightning illuminates the sky during a thunderstorm over the Swiss Federal Palace in Bern July 17, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer
18. Lightning strikes over Prague's suburban neighbourhood during an overnight storm July 17, 2009. REUTERS/PETR JOSEK
19. Lightning lights up the night sky over Plainview, Texas, late May 6, 2008, as more severe storms and possible tornados are forecasted for the next few days. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
20. A lightning bolt strikes the top of the Eiffel Tower during a violent thunder storm in Paris, June 8, 1992. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
21. A lightning bolt strikes during a thunderstorm over Shanghai, China July 6, 2005. Residents in Shanghai had ten scorching summer days with temperature hitting 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). REUTERS/Aly Song
22. Lightning strikes across the skies of Twentynine Palms in California during monsoon August 8, 2005. Heavy rain continue to pound on the southern Californian desert for the third week. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
24. Challenging the Las Vegas Strip's lighting spectacular, Mother Nature puts on a show of her own over Las Vegas early July 20. The storm pounded the valley with rain and high winds.
25. The New York Times building is struck by lightning in New York June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Nic Fulton
26. Lightning strikes the Tokyo Tower in the Japanese capital September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
27. Lightning illuminates the sky offshore Beirut October 29,2008 during a thunderstorm over Lebanon. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi
28. Lightning lights up the night sky over San Jose and the central valley of Costa Rica, July 28. Electrical storms are common during these months as the dry season gives way to the rainy season.
29. Lightning strikes across the skies of Twentynine Palms in California during monsoon August 8, 2005. Heavy rain continue to pound on the southern Californian desert for the third week.
30. A bolt of lightning strikes the Oriental Pearl Tower as others light up the skyline above the Pudong financial district in Shanghai June 22, 2006. Picture taken June 22, 2006.
31. Lightning strikes above the Luxor Hotel and Casino during a thunderstorm in Las Vegas, Nevada July 17, 2006. The Mandalay Bay Resort is at left.