Los Angeles Times

The Electrifying Beauty of Summer Storms

Thunder and lightning. Very, very frightening.

To create those otherworldly jolts of beauty in the sky, thunderstorms require two key ingredients: rapidly rising warm air and a good bit of moisture. Which is why, if you tend to get swept up in the drama of storms — those thick clouds! that howling wind! the whirling danger! — summer is your season. Here, mother nature at her most electric. (Pictured above: Lake Mead, Nevada; 2015.)

ZAP! Scott Olson/Getty Images ZAP! Chicago, Illinois; 2013 SIZZZZLE! Wild Horizon/UIG via Getty Images SIZZZZLE! Sonoran Desert, Tucson, Arizona; 2008
Triple exposure of lightning strikes over the Santa Catalina Mountains Summer monsoon season, Sonoran Desert Tucson, Arizona, USA Multiple Exposure Medium Format film
Two cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in a rain curtain at sunset in Avra Valley, silhouetting a lone saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert Tucson, Arizona, USA
Wild Horizon/UIG via Getty Images KA-BLAMO! MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images KA-BLAMO! Puerto Montt, Chile; 2015
(For explosive volcanoes, check out Nature at Its Most Explosive)
CRACKLE! Wild Horizon/UIG via Getty Images CRACKLE! Avra Valley, Arizona; 2008 SHAZZAM! Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images SHAZZAM! New York City; 2014
Lightning streaks across the sky above midtown Manhattan as an early evening storm passes over New Y
Sunset Rainbows Over the Skyline of New York
Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images SNAP! Dan Kitwood/Getty Images SNAP! London, England; 2008 ZA-ZANG! MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images ZA-ZANG! Washington D.C.; 2015 PFFFFFT! VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images PFFFFFT! Nice, France; 2015 KRACK-A-LACK!! Wild Horizon/UIG via Getty Images KRACK-A-LACK!! Tucson, Arizona; 2008
Two enormously powerful cloud-to-ground lightning strikes with multiple air discharge channels Tucson, Arizona, USA
Dramatic cloud-to-ground lightning with unusual illumination in the clouds and rain shaft Tucson, Arizona, USA
Wild Horizon/UIG via Getty Images POP! Timothy Drivas/Moment Editorial/Getty Images POP! Queens, New York City; 2014 YOWP! Dan Kitwood/Getty Images YOWP! Kos, Greece; 2015 SWIZ-ZAM! Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images SWIZ-ZAM! Berlin, Germany; 2017 KA-POW! NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images KA-POW! Terracina, Italy; 2011 BANG! Jason Camhi/Getty Images BANG! New York City; 2012 SMASH-ZAM! Dan Kitwood/Getty Images SMASH-ZAM! Poole, England; 2013 LIKE, WOW! Anadolu Agency/Getty Images LIKE, WOW! Ankara, Turkey; 2014

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