The average bold of lightning carries an electric current of 30 kiloamperes and a charge of 5 coulombs and 500 MJ of energy. A large lighting bolt can carry up to 120 kiloampres and 350 coulombs. The voltage of a bolt of lightning is proportional to the length of the bold.
A typical lightning bolt produces about 10,000 amps but some bolts, such as the one that struck the Apollo spacecraft upon liftoff in the 60’s, have measured well over 100,000 amps. Each small three-foot bolt generates enough electricity to illuminate a 60-watt light bulb for 20 minutes. The average Midwest thunderstorm releases enough electrical energy to power the entire U.S. for 20 minutes.
A lightning bolt typically bridges a voltage difference of several hundred million volts. It produces a current of 5,000 to 20,000 amps, although currents ten times that level have been recorded. A thunderstorm will produce several hundred megawatts of electricity.
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