What Would Happen If Every Lightning Bolt on Earth Struck the Same Place All at Once

As part of their ongoing “What If?” series, Randall Munroe of xkcd and Henry Reich of MinutePhysics explain what would happen if every lightning bolt in the world struck the same place at the very same time and how big it would be.

The main channel of a  lightning bolt—the part that’s carrying current—is  about a centimeter or two in diameter. Our bundle contains about a million separate bolts, which means it will be about six meters in diameter, hitting a region of the ground the size of the center circle in a basketball court. 

They also address the damage it would do, and how much power could it generate.

 The lightning bolt would deliver about two atomic bombs worth of energy to the air and ground. From a more practical standpoint, this is enough electricity to power a game console and TV for several million years. Or, to put it another way, it could support the US’s  electricity consumption… for five minutes. 

All Lighting Striking at Once
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.