Incredible High Speed Video of Lightning Captured at 11,000 Frames Per Second

According to the Encyclopedia of World Climatology, lightning happens about 40–50 times per second worldwide; that translates into almost 1.4 billion flashes per year. But of the 1.4 billion that happen in 2011, we’re pretty sure this was the only one captured at 11,000 frames per second, turning a one second lightning flash into an incredible 6 minute experience.

The resulting footage is breathtaking. As the positive ground flash creeps its way to the surface, lightning physicist Vladislav Mazur and meteorologist Tom Warner explain its progress as they themselves get charged (if you’ll forgive the pun) with excitement.


We’ve shared one other of Warner’s jaw-dropping videos of a slow-motion lightning strike, but even that footage was only shot at 7,207 fps. This, if possible, is even more impressive and telling. Mazur was one of the first scientists to ever study storms using high-speed cameras in the early 90s, but even he is blown away by the detail Warner has captured here.

The clip originally appeared on National Geographic’s Naked Science – Lightning Chasers. To learn more about lightning or see more amazing footage, head over to the show’s website by following this link.

  • bob monkinghouse

    Nicer if it was HDR though eh

  • Ralph Hightower

    Lightning is fascinating to watch. I once saw a horizontal lightning stroke that was shaped like a sine curve. Once at work from the 21st floor, I saw a ground strike; the ground glowed for about two seconds.

  • Joakim Bidebo

    Would have been even nicer if you was able to see the clip and not seeing someone else seeing the clip. :/

  • chico

    Heading should read: “Watch two people watch lighting at 11,000FPS”

  • Kyle

    Sooo… where’s the actual clip?

  • Noblaikas Teelgurder

    Real shame. Best lightning strike ever recorded, ruined by two blokes fawning to camera over it.

  • Hell’s Donut House

    Fantastic! [ also, you misspelled “lightning” in the headline ]