There are different types of lightning. These can be classified by the direction of their stroke and depending on whether the discharge occurs between clouds or between cloud and ground.


This is the best known type of lightning, although not the most common. It is a discharge between a cumulonimbus cloud and the ground.

It is the most dangerous type of lightning since it travels from the cloud downward and upon impact can cause serious injuries to living beings and significant damage to objects and property.

Within the cloud-to-ground rays as we all know them, a downward trace from the cloud to the ground, there are those with different particularities:


It is a type of cloud-to-ground lightning that is characterized by generating chain intersections of short, bright and longer-lasting sections than a usual discharge.

It is a relatively rare phenomenon that, according to science, may be due to the variation of the width of the ray, which produces an illusion of greater or lesser light in some sections of its path. It may more properly be considered a discharge stage of normal lightning rather than a type of lightning itself.


It is a type of cloud-to-ground lightning of very short duration, with a very bright flash appearance and with numerous ramifications.


The bifurcated ray is the name given to cloud-to-ground rays that show the branching of its path, very similar to the staccato ray but with a longer duration.


This type of lightning consists of a discharge between the ground and a cumulonimbus cloud, with an upward trace.

It is formed when negatively charged ions ascend from the ground and meet positively charged ions in the cloud. When they collide, the lightning returns to the ground as a trace.

Typically, these upward lightning strikes are recorded in the vicinity of tall objects such as repeaters or skyscrapers. They constitute 1% of the total electrical discharges on the planet.


There are two types of cloud-cloud lightning, those that occur between two separate clouds, called Inter-cloud; and those that occur within the same cloud, between areas with different electrical potential, called intra-cloud. The latter are the most frequent.