Red, White, or Pink: What Is the Color of Lightning? Why Can Lightning Be Different Colors?
What Is the Color of Lightning?
Can lightning be different colors? The color of lightning depends on the state of the atmosphere. Moisture, dust, and haze together with other factors influence lightning and because of this, it can appear in different colors. Usually, when lightning strikes, it is red or orange.
Along with the most common color which is white, there are blue, yellow, purple, and green lightning. Different colored lightning determines the weather conditions and can tell the information about thunderstorms. Although lightning is visually very beautiful, it is also super dangerous. It can lead to deaths, as well as destroy infrastructure and private properties. As you read this article, there are over 2,000 thunderstorms worldwide and each one produces about 200 lightning strikes per second.
What Affects the Different Lightning Colors?
Because of the different compositions of the atmosphere, the different colors of lightning are possible. The fact is that lightning during a flash heats up quickly, literally heats up to 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is many times hotter than the temperature of the Sun. At this temperature, the air has a bluish-purple glow. So if the atmosphere is clear, the color of the lightning will be blue or light violet. But the distance also plays an important role and influences the different kinds of lightning colors.
As the air scatters the light blue, dark blue, and purple colors, the farther away from the observer the lightning will be white at first, and then it will go yellow. If there is fine dust in the air, the color of the lightning will change to yellow-orange tones. If there is water in the air (e.g. rain), then due to a drop of water in the path of light, the lightning may turn red. In cold seasons there may be ice micro-crystals in the atmosphere, which can create astonishing visual effects, due to which the color of the lightning can change significantly each time it discharges, becoming green, then yellow, then pink.
What Can the Different Colored Lightning Tell Us?
In addition to being a beautiful phenomenon of nature, the different colors of lightning also provide scientific information. It is proven that all lightning colors are considered dangerous but to different degrees. By the color of lightning, you can understand the condition of the surrounding air: a flash of red indicates rain in the cloud, blue – hail, yellow – dust. The white color is the most common one and it indicates that the air is very dry.
Such lightning is especially dangerous because it often causes fires when discharged into the ground. This type of lighting is the hottest one, so its discharge can cause a lot of trouble. Yellow lightning tends to be much cooler than the others and indicates a dry thunderstorm and lots of dirt and dust. In contrast, the purple and blue coloring often indicates hail or rain. Green lightning also exists, but it is difficult for an observer to see because it is hidden inside a cloud.
We wish you to stay safe and take care of yourself. See you in the next articles!