No. I remember being taught at school that fast moving clouds gather electrical charges and exchange charges as they rub against each other. This is entirely untrue as the moist air contained in clouds actually helps dissipate charge and by no stretch of the imagination be responsible for the apparent build up of charge. The real explanation for thunderstorms is surprisingly still unknown to science. Here is my explanation. There are two pressure gradients in our atmosphere. The air pressure gradient where the pressure increases the closer you get to sea level, and the earth’s electrostatic gradient which decreases the closer you get to sea level. Both of these are mutually exclusive. Before a thunderstorm there is normally a sudden and dramatic drop in air pressure. This causes a sudden corresponding rise in electrostatic pressure (voltage). This electrostatic pressure is held in place by the very cold DRY insulating air high in the atmosphere, until the moist clouds rush into the low air pressure zone and create a conduit for the dissipation of charge. Note that often you will see horizontal lightening at the beginning of the storm. When the rain begins to fall you will see dramatic bolts of lightening to the ground. No rubbing, no charge separation.


About Rob W Harrison
There is a part of my mind that stubbornly thinks about science. I have a life, job, wife and family but without my Van Der Graaf Generator life would be incomplete. I am a great believer that this amazing universe came into being through process: movement >pressure > density > mass. Maybe I believe in an non viscous ether. Anyway this is where I can share my thoughts.

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