When lightning hits land, it sets it on fire. Have you wondered what happens when it hits ice? Let us find out. 

Lightning forms a hole in the surface of ice that it hits. If there is water beneath it, the water conducts the electricity from the lightning. 

For more information on lightning and ice, please continue reading. 


Lightning is a natural electrical phenomenon that occurs during thunderstorms. It is a rapid and intense electrical discharge within a storm cloud, between a storm cloud and the ground, or between two storm clouds. 

It is created by the separation of positive and negative charges within a storm cloud caused by the interaction of rising and falling air currents. This charge separation creates a strong electric field which allows for electricity discharge in the form of lightning. 

While lightning can be beautiful to watch, it can also be deadly. On average, lightning kills around 30 people in the United States annually and injures hundreds more. It is crucial to be wary of the chances of lightning and stay out of its path by taking necessary precautions and staying indoors. 

Lightning And Ice

It is interesting to look at these two phenomena together. One produces fire, while the other is the polar opposite and is cold. However, an amusing fact is that lightning is made from ice. The ice particles in the clouds serve as particles that gain the electric charge, make an electric field, and cause the discharge of electricity to hit the ground.

However, we need to know which one wins when one hits the other. 

When lightning strikes ice, it passes through it. The lighting may create a hole in the ice and reach the water underneath. Due to the electric charge, the water underneath will be conductive and have a charge on it. 

However, this is different. Ice is a pure form of water that does not conduct electricity. 

Arctic Lightning

The occurrence of lightning near the North Pole, called Arctic Lightning, is a phenomenon that was not observed for a long time until 2019. When a team of researchers saw this, they began to question the validity of the occurrence. 

However, after running multiple tests for errors and cross-checking readings, a conclusion was reached that the area 200m from the North Pole experienced lightning bolts, and the initial observation was validated.

As a result of this huge finding, the presence of thunderstorms and lightning near the North Pole was further investigated. It was thought that the atmosphere near the North Pole might be too unstable to allow the thunderstorm to form. 

Most thunderstorms form at lower altitudes, where humidity and higher temperatures support the formation of thunderstorms. An alarming state can be seen for such an incident to occur at the highest altitudes. 

Changes in climate and the rapidly dropping temperatures have brought the North Pole’s atmosphere to have unstable air. Moreover, the lack of ice in some parts of the Arctic provided the right pressure for thunderstorms to form. 

The situation is better than it may seem. It is reported that out of 2.5 billion electricity discharges a year, only a very few are experienced near the North Pole. The culprit for this is the disappearing ice from the seas and the temperatures of the sea rising from above-average levels. 

Scientists have installed elaborate sensors and probes to explore and learn more about the thunderstorms that occur on ice in the Arctic. The implications for these observations are such that they can report how bad climate change is and how swift action is needed. 

What Happens When Lightning Hits Water?

The occurrence of lightning hitting the water is very low. These instances have been recorded infrequently. This is because lightning mostly seeks ground to land on, and the path of least resistance that it needs is available. 

However, lightning can spread to water from the land. This occurs when lightning strikes something on land, for example, boats, and they pass on the electric charge to the water. 

Water is highly conductive, and charged water can cause massive destruction. The charge stays on the surface and does not reach deeper waters. As a result, all the fish on the surface and any humans who swim too close to the surface are killed. 

Moreover, boats, ships, or items with conductive materials like metal also catch the charge. 

This can lead to significant damage to property, but the highest damage that is seen is to human and animal lives. 

Steps To Take When Lightning Hits

During a storm with lightning, it’s essential to take precautionary measures to stay safe. These can help prevent a high risk of injury and even death due to the solid electric shock that lightning may cause. 

Stay Indoors – The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is inside a building. Being in open spaces, especially those on a higher level, can put you at a higher risk of being struck by lightning. 

Keep Away from Windows – During a thunderstorm; lightning can strike the ground and travel through metal wires and plumbing. Stay away from windows, doors, and plumbing fixtures, including sinks and bathtubs. 

Do Not Use Electronics – Lightning can travel through electrical wires, so avoiding using electronic devices during a thunderstorm is best. This includes phones, computers, and appliances.

Wait For It To Pass – If you’re caught outside during a thunderstorm, seek shelter in a low-lying area away from trees, poles, and other tall objects. Try to sit in a position that is as low as possible. 

It is best to leave there for at least 15 minutes after you have heard the last thunderbolt. 

Stay Away From Conductive Surfaces – Conductive surfaces include all metallic items. Stay away from bicycles, railings, or any metallic objects in the path of a lightning strike. 

Final Thoughts

Lightning is amusing! Forming from ice, but carrying the power of heating the air surrounding it by several folds. It is later responsible for causing intense fires and large-scale damage to humans, animals, infrastructure, and property. 

Adequate measures when you see a thunderstorm approaching must be taken. We recommend you follow through with the instructions of government officials.