Question #87105

1 Answer
Apr 30, 2017

Red soil is not more prone to lightining attack than is black soil. The soil color has no effect on where lightning will strike.
Darker soil over a large area can contribute to rising air. See below.


While it is tempting to consider the ferric iron oxides that give the soil its red colour, it is predominantly the presence of rising air currents forming thunder clouds. These clouds can move across a country so the movement of the air mass determines where lighting will strike.

When a large mass of air is heated by warmer land #or water# underneath it, the air rises into the atmosphere. When moisture is present it is carried aloft by the rising air. The moisture in the air weighs less than the air it displaces, contributing to the rise. The molecules in the rising air collide with molecules in the surrounding air generating charges of static electricity.

As the generated static increases and combines, the electricity becomes powerful enough to seek taller, pointy objects on earth to discharge. The result is a lightning strike from the cloud to the earth.

While all of this is happening, the air is also cooling off as it climbs higher into the atmosphere and the water vapor begins to condense back into water. Clouds are formed, and as their intensity grows, heavy, dark storm clouds appear with precipitation. High winds often develop within the air mass and the entire system may be in motion relative to the ground.

Back to the lightning, it can strike at any time during the storm as well as before and after the precipitation starts. There may be no precipitation or none in the vicinity. Remember that the static electricity generated is originally due to the rising air collisions. The rain or ice that is falling adds to the commotion as the particles swirl around and up and down inside the cloud.

This site has a NASA map showing where lightning strikes most: