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Lightning during a thunderstorm

A lightning bolt strikes a tree. A creeper can be seen hopping about in the woods. If it had been closer to the strike, it would have become charged.

Thunderstorms are a somewhat common and dangerous weather condition.


Thunderstorms are a semi-common temporary, global occurrence[1] that can happen randomly at any time, within the Overworld. The exact type of precipitation during a thunderstorm will vary depending on the temperature of the current biome, and the current altitude.

Thunderstorms may occur randomly, as rain or snow storms worsen. The average storm lasts 0.5 – 1 Minecraft day, and there is a 0.5 to 7.5 day delay between storms. They can be skipped entirely with the use of a bed.


As with rain and snow, the sky is darkened and the sun, moon, and stars are no longer visible. Thunderstorms darken the world, causing light from the sky to decrease to a level of 10 in full daylight (although brightness is closer to a level 11.5 and is tinted blue). The clouds darken from white to a dark gray, although clouds themselves do not precipitate or create lightning. Although the sun is not visible during rain, the glow associated with sunrise and sunset is still visible.

Unlike during regular rainstorms or snowstorms, the light level from the sky is treated as if it were 5 for the purposes of hostile mob spawning, which allows hostile mobs to spawn at any time of the day.


Lightning Bolt
Internal ID

PC: none
PE: 93

Entity ID

PC: lightning_bolt
PE: lightningbolt
note: these are not savegame IDs, they are aliases for the purposes of the /summon command.

Lightning is a lethal element to thunderstorms. Lightning momentarily increases the sky light's brightness to slightly greater than full daylight.

The fire that a lightning bolt creates.

Lightning strikes randomly and creates fires where it strikes. Such fires act normally, igniting all flammable materials, detonating TNT, and even activating nether portals. While most fires are extinguished by the rain, areas that block rain can allow the fire to spread, and any netherrack lit by lightning will not be extinguished by the rain.

Most entities struck by lightning are dealt 5 () damage, and are set on fire, which may cause additional damage. If lightning strikes a pig, it turns into a zombie pigman. If lightning strikes a creeper, it becomes charged. If lightning strikes a villager, it transforms into a witch.

A group of skeletal horsemen spawned during a thunderstorm.

Lightning may randomly spawn a "skeleton trap" skeletal horse, with a chance of 3.75–7.5% on Easy, 7.5–20% on Normal, and 11.25–33.75% on Hard, depending on the regional difficulty.

If the player is killed by a lightning strike, the death message will read "[player] was struck by lightning." However, this message will not display if the player was killed by the fire created by a lightning bolt.

Lightning may be manually summoned with the /summon lightning_bolt command. While it is summoned as an entity, it cannot be referred to by commands or selectors.


Thunder is a sound event that occurs every time lightning strikes. It can be heard by the player up to 160,000 blocks away from the position of the lightning strike. Thunder is heard instantly, regardless of the player's distance from the lightning strike itself.

Lightning mechanics[]

For each loaded chunk, every tick there is a 1100,000 chance of an attempted lightning strike during a thunderstorm.

When lightning is to strike, random X and Z coordinates within the chunk are chosen, and the block just above the highest block that is liquid or blocks movement is chosen for the lightning strike. Then if there are any living entities that can see the sky in a 3×3×h region from 3 below the target block up to the world height, one such entity is selected at random and the lightning target is moved to the block the entity is standing in.

The target block is checked again for the following conditions:

  • Target block can see sky.
  • Rain (not snow) is falling in the target block.
    • Thus, lightning does not naturally strike within cold biomes, or biomes where it does not rain (except in the Console Edition)

If these conditions pass, lightning strikes.

When lightning strikes, all entities within a 6×6×12 region horizontally centered on the northwest corner of the target block with the bottom edge 3 below the target block are struck by lightning. Multiple passes are made over this region, so items dropped during an earlier pass may be destroyed during a subsequent pass; damage immunity usually prevents struck mobs from taking more than 5 () damage. Non-solid blocks (such as redstone, torches, and snow layers) are not directly affected by lightning.


1.5Added thunderstorms and lightning.
Added the ability for lightning to charge creepers and transform pigs into zombie pigmen.
Official release
1.7.2The rendering brightness is now decreased during thunderstorms. Previously, the sky would darken, but the ground wouldn't appear to get darker, even though monsters could spawn.
The clouds and the sky now appear much darker during thunderstorms.
1.814w03aLightning will now transform villagers into witches.
14w30aLightning can now be manually summoned with the /summon LightningBolt command.
14w32aLightning now damages Nether mobs and mobs with the Fire Resistance status effect.
1.915w38aThere is a chance (depending on regional difficulty) that a lightning strike will spawn a "skeleton trap" skeletal horse.
1.1116w32aThe entity ID is changed from LightningBolt to lightning_bolt.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.12.1build 1Added thunderstorms.
Console Edition
TU1CU11.00Patch 1Added thunderstorms.


Issues relating to “Lightning” or “Thunder“ are maintained on the issue tracker. Report issues there.


  • On the Pocket Edition, If the player leaves the world during a thunderstorm and rejoins, it would only be raining.
  • Lightning, unlike other weather, does not have an image file associated with it. Thus, it is coded directly into the game engine, allowing for dynamic, realistic lightning.
  • On the Pocket Edition, lightning strikes closer to the player more often than the PC and Console Version, due to spawn distance limits.
  • If multiple lightning bolts strike a single villager at the same time, the number of witches spawned as a result is equal to the number of lightning bolts, making it possible, but ridiculously unlikely, to get multiple witches from one villager. This also works with pig-to-pigman transformations, but not creeper-to-charged transformations as the latter is just a change of state rather than a new entity creation.
  • You cannot see mobs, water, glass, etc., through lightning.