Forked lightning

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forked lightning

The common form of cloud-to-ground discharge always visually present to a greater or lesser degree that exhibits downward-directed branches from the main lightning channel.

In general, of the many branches of the stepped leader, only one is connected to the ground, defining the primary, bright return stroke path; the other incomplete channels decay after the ascent of the first return stroke.
Compare streak lightning, zigzag lightning.

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