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One of the most important speed feats is dodging or reacting to lightning. This article is supposed to provide some short explanations on how fast a character should be ranked through this feats.

What is a real Lightning?

Most lightning in fiction are not real lightning. Often they are supernatural in nature and are possibly not even electricity. Therefore lightning are only accepted as such under certain circumstances.

  • Cloud-to-ground lightning are considered to be real lightning as long there is nothing suggesting otherwise.
  • Lightning bolts from electrical devices can usually be considered as real lightning, as long as the purpose of the device is not to produce lighting strikes. That may intuitively sound strange, but many lightning weapons actually just produce energy beams, while things like broken circuits usually do have proper electricity flowing. Some more realistic devices like Tesla coils can most likely be accepted as real lightning none the less.
  • Lightning directly produced by a character is only considered as real lightning if it has demonstrated some properties real lightning has. Some examples are: making muscles of hit beings contract, having an (electro)magnetic field, being shown to actually move with a speed similar to lightning, flowing through conducting materials, the character being able to manipulate real electricity or electromagnetism in general, generating ozone or causing electrolysis.

Scientific basis

The average speed of lightning is 4.4×105 m/s, but can vary mostly in the range of 1.0-14×105 m/s. [1]

The clouds that usually cause thunderstorms build about 200m to 4000m above the ground.[2] On this wiki, 2000m is the standard assumption.

Calculation

The calculation for the speed a character moves at when dodging/reacting to lightning is a very simple one.

The formula is:

LightningDodge

Cloud-to-Ground lightning

Based on the formula and scientific basis we can now make an estimation on which speed characters, that dodged cloud-to-ground lightning, should be placed at. We do that by inserting the distance values and the speed values into the formula. For the distance the character moved I will assume one meter, as that seems reasonable. Should a character appear to have moved a lot more or a lot less then that a separate calculation has to be made using the formula above.

Speed\Distance Low-End (4000m) Average (2100 m) High-End (200m)
Low-End
25 m/s
47.62 m/s
500 m/s
Average (4.4×105 m/s)
110 m/s
209.52 m/s
2200 m/s
High-End
350 m/s
666.67 m/s
7000 m/s

Non Cloud-to-Ground lightning

Non Cloud-to-Ground lightning can be calculated with the same calculation mentioned above.

It should be noted that as long as the character or machine did not display creating Cloud-to-ground lightning it is questionable whether or not the lightning actually moves at average lightning speed, because the scientific knowledge on the speed of lightning is lacking in the current state of science, so that it is unknown which variables could influence the speed.

References

  1. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1985JGR....90.8136T
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumulonimbus_cloud#Appearance

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