Types of Bolts
1. Gigantic jet - About 80 percent of all storm discharges are intracloud. But if one heads up and hits a weak positive charge in the upper layer, it exits skyward.
2. Bolt from the blue - Gigantic jets can exit the cloud sideways and touch down miles away from the storm that spawned them under a clear blue sky.
3. Spider - These discharges travel up to 60 miles per second over huge distances, moving laterally through horizontal layers.
4. Beaded - Certain segments of the kinked ion channel seem to glow brighter when seen from a particular angle.
5. Forked - When too much negative charge builds up at the end of a bolt, its channel can split apart in midair to form two or more offshoots.
6. Ribbon - Multiple strikes sometimes share the same channel. If the wind blows the channel sideways, the eye perceives a band of light in the microseconds between strokes.
7. Zigzag - As a storm dissipates, air between the cloud and the ground holds pockets of charge. This produces bolts that hop groundward from one pocket to the next.
8. Ball - Grapefruit-sized, glowing spheres of electricity have been reported in the vicinity of thunderstorms. No one knows why.
9. Energetic narrow bipolar - These intracloud flashes are one of the strongest natural source of radio emissions. They last only 10 microseconds.
10. Red sprite - Positively charged cloud-to-ground lightning makes the cloud more negative. That negative field reaches upward above the cloud, where lower air densities mean less energy to produce a discharge—which then glows red.
11. Blue jet - According to one theory, negatively charged cloud-to-ground lightning makes the cloud more positive; the storm pumps the excess positivity skyward in a high-energy burst that makes the ionized air around it glow blue.