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


Cloud-to-ground is the best know 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 because it moves from the cloud to the ground and on impact can cause serious injuries to people and animals, as well as important damage of objects and properties.

Within the cloud-to-ground lightning as we all know them, a descending line from the cloud to the ground, there are different characteristics:

Bead lightning

Bead lightning is a type of CG lightning that is characterized by generating chain intersections of short, bright and longer-lasting sections than an usual discharge. It is a relatively rare phenomenon that, according to science, may be due to the variation of the beam width, which produces an illusion of more or less light in some sections of its path. It can be considered more properly a stage of a normal lightning discharge instead of a type of lightning itself.


Staccato is a type of CG lightning of very short duration with very bright flash aspect and with numerous ramifications.

Forked lightning

Forked lightning is the name given to the CG lightning that shows the ramification of its path. It is very similar to the Staccato lightning but of greater duration.


This type of lightning consists of a discharge between the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud, with an ascending line. This is formed when negatively charged ions ascend from the ground and are in the cloud with positively charged ions. When they collide, lightning returns to earth as a trace. Usually, these lightnings are registered in the proximity of tall objects such as repeaters or skyscrapers. They constitute 1% of the total electric discharges of the planet.


There are two types of cloud-to-cloud lightning. First, the lightnings that occurs between two separate clouds, called inter-cloud or cloud-to-cloud (CC); Second, lightnings that occurs within the same cloud, between areas with different electric potential, called intra-cloud (IC). Intra-cloud lightnings are the most frequent type.