What makes lightning?

   Lightning is really electricity — lots of electricity that jumps through the air in huge sparks.
You can make little jumping sparks of electricity if you rub a cat's fur or comb your hair with a hard rubber comb. Probably the giant sparks of lightning are caused in somewhat the same way.
   Lightning sparks start in the clouds. Great winds blow through a rain cloud and whip the raindrops around and tear some of them apart. Tremendous action goes on, and this action electrifies the cloud. Weather-men don't know exactly how it happens, but great charges of electricity build up. Suddenly there comes a flash. The lightning jumps from one part of the cloud to another. Or it leaps between the cloud and the earth.
   Lightning usually seems like one enormous quivering spark, but it is really several sparks. It travels in a zigzag path, and that is what gives it a jagged look.
   If you could stretch electric cords from the ground to the clouds, there wouldn't be any lightning. The electricity would run through the cords into the earth. Of course, we can't plug cords into the clouds. But people often do have metal lightning rods that stick up above houses and barns. The electricity jumps from the cloud to the rod. Instead of hitting the building, it runs into the earth.