Why do people think lightning travels from the ground up?

Doesn't this picture say otherwise?…


Cloud-to-ground lightning

This is the best known and second most common type of lightning. Of all the different types of lightning, it poses the greatest threat to life and property since it strikes the ground. Cloud-to-ground lightning is a lightning discharge between a cumulonimbus cloud and the ground. It is initiated by a leader stroke moving down from the cloud.

Ground-to-cloud lightning

Ground-to-cloud lightning is a lightning discharge between the ground and a cumulonimbus cloud initiated by an upward-moving leader stroke. This type of lightning forms when negatively charged ions called the stepped leader rises up from the ground and meets the positively charged ions in a cumulonimbus cloud. Then the strike goes back to the ground as the return stroke.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning

Lightning discharges may occur between areas of cloud without contacting the ground. When it occurs between two separate clouds it is known as inter-cloud lightning and when it occurs between areas of differing electric potential within a single cloud, it is known as intra-cloud lightning. Intra-cloud lightning is the most frequently occurring type.


lightning can travel from the ground up. it is just a question of how the positive and negative charges build up.


For your information, lightning does both. Lightning has a step leader and several return strokes. It doesn't matter where the step leader came from; there are two directions of charge flow: away from the source and to the source.