Crack! Too fast for the human eye to accurately view, only super slow-motion video cameras can really "see" the precise moment lightning bolts hit a building.
This is surprisingly difficult to do: Cameras need to be very close to the structure and a long observation time is needed to observe a single lightning strike on a specific building.
A new study in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters included results from recent video observations of lightning hitting buildings in São Paulo City, Brazil. These are the types of buildings that are commonly found in almost every populated area around the world.
In the video, not only does lightning blast down from the cloud, separate bolts also move up from the building underneath. These videos show in slow motion the moment when the down-coming leader of the lightning strike connects to the upward leader, which comes from the tip of the lightning rods of the twin buildings.
The proximity of the camera and the high frame rate allowed study authors to see interesting details that will improve understanding how lightning works as well as lightning protection standards.
Marcelo Saba of the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil led the study. The journal is a publication of the American Geophysical Union.