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Lightning during a thunderstorm.

A lightning bolt strikes a tree, making it potentially flammable. A creeper can be seen walking through the woods; if it had been closer to the strike, it would have become charged.

A thunderstorm is a somewhat uncommon and dangerous weather condition.

Behavior[]

Thunderstorms are an uncommon temporary, global occurrence[1] that can happen randomly at any time, within the Overworld. The exact type of precipitation during a thunderstorm varies depending on the temperature of the current biome, as well as the current altitude.

  • While the clear counter is counting down, the weather is always clear. This counter is used only when the "/weather clear" command is issued, setting the counter to a value given by the player or 5 minutes (see Commands/weather)
  • The rain counter counts down to zero, and each time it reaches zero, the rain is toggled on or off. When the rain is turned on, the counter is reset to a value between 12,000-23,999 ticks (0.5-1 game days), and when the rain is turned off the counter is reset to a value of 12,000-179,999 ticks (0.5-7.5 game days).
  • Like the rain counter, the thunder counter also toggles thunder on and off when it reaches zero, but clear weather overrides the "on" state. When thunder is turned on, the thunder counter is reset to 3,600-15,999 ticks (3-13 minutes), and when thunder is turned off the counter rests to 12,000-179,999 ticks (0.5-7.5 days).
  • Thunder can occur in the game only when the rain and thunder states both happen to be "on" at the same time. The random combinations of the states toggled by the rain and thunder counters result in a 1.44% chance for a thunderstorm to occur, or an approximate average real-time duration of 9 hours between thunderstorms.
  • The values in each range are uniformly distributed.

Thunderstorms can be skipped entirely with the use of a bed, regardless of the time of day. Sleeping in a bed also resets the in-game storm timer, making a storm right after sleeping unlikely. This means the best way to wait for a thunderstorm would be to go without sleeping for several days, as sleeping every Minecraft day would minimize the chance of a thunderstorm occurring.

Effects[]

As with rain and snow, the sky is darkened and the sun, moon, and stars are no longer visible. Thunderstorms darken the world, causing the light level from the sky to visually decrease to 10. The clouds darken from white to dark gray, although clouds themselves do not precipitate or create lightning. While 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[]

Not to be confused with Lighting.

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 (only on normal and hard difficulty) in a 2 block radius where it strikes. Such fires act normally, igniting all flammable materials, detonating TNT, and even activating nether portals. The lightning itself, however, is not destructive and does not destroy blocks. While most fires are extinguished by the rain, areas that block rain can allow the fire to spread, and any netherrack, soul sand, or soul soil lit by lightning is not extinguished by the rain.

Most entities struck by lightning are dealt 5♥♥♥ damage (sometimes twice in succession) and are set on fire, which may cause additional damage.

If the player is killed by a lightning strike, the death message appears: "<player> was struck by lightning". This message does not display if the player was killed by the fire created by a lightning bolt.

Lightning in Bedrock Edition changes color from white to orange at sunset, and appears brighter during the daytime.

Lightning may be manually summoned with the /summon lightning_bolt command. It is summoned as an entity, and it can be referred to by commands or selectors.

A group of skeletal horsemen spawned during a thunderstorm.

Charged Creeper

A villager gets struck by lightning.

Lightning is also spawned when a trident enchanted with Channeling is thrown and strikes a mob or a lightning rod during a thunderstorm.

Effects on mobs[]

A lightning strike affects certain mobs differently:

  • Lightning may randomly spawn a "skeleton trap" horse with a chance of 0.75–1.5% chance on Easy, 1.5–4% on Normal, and 2.8125–6.75% on Hard, depending on the regional difficulty. A player triggers the trap by moving within 10 blocks of the horse, whereupon the horse transforms into four skeletal horsemen. A non-triggered trap horse despawns after 15 minutes.
  • A pig struck by lightning turns into a zombified piglin.
  • A creeper becomes charged.
  • A villager gets replaced by a witch.
  • A red mooshroom changes into a brown mooshroom and vice versa.
  • A lightning strike on a turtle instantly kills it, and it drops 1 bowl instead of its normal drops.[2]

Lightning mechanics[]

For each loaded chunk, every tick there is a 1100,000 chance of an attempted lightning strike during a thunderstorm. From this probability, if ≈201 chunks are loaded (from a radius of 128 blocks from the player to the center of each chunk) then 90% of the time up to 5 lightning strikes occur in the world each minute, with an average of approximately 2.4 lightning strikes each minute.

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 obstructs movement is chosen for the lightning strike. If a lightning rod is nearby, it strikes the rod instead. Then if there are any living entities that can see the sky in a 3×h×3 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 stands in.

The target block is checked again for the following conditions:

  • Target block can see the 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 6×12×6 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.

Thunder[]

"Thunder" redirects here. For the Minecraft Dungeons enchantment, see MCD:Thundering.

Thunder is a sound event that occurs every time lightning strikes. Every player within 160 thousand blocks and the same dimension hears the thunder.

The ability to hear thunder affects multiplayer, as it is possible to hear lightning strike at someone else's base or use a modded Minecraft client to determine the direction of every strike in the world the player is in. Using the direction of strikes, it is possible to triangulate the coordinates of lightning strikes.

Lightning rods[]

Lightning strikes within an area of 32×4×32 blocks above a lightning rod are redirected to the rod, emitting a Redstone signal. This can be used to prevent flammable structures from being struck by lightning, or intentionally direct lightning toward or away from mobs. While thunderstorm they show little sparks, even in biomes, where thunder doesn't appear

Sounds[]

SoundSubtitlesSourceDescriptionNamespaced IDTranslation keyVolumePitchAttenuation
distance
Lightning strikesWeather?entity.lightning_bolt.impactsubtitles.entity.lightning_bolt.impact??16
Thunder roars??entity.lightning_bolt.thundersubtitles.entity.lightning_bolt.thunder??16 (technical) / 160K (effective)
Trident thunder cracks??item.trident.thundersubtitles.item.trident.thunder??16

Data values[]

ID[]

Java Edition:

NameNamespaced IDTranslation key
Lightning Boltlightning_boltentity.minecraft.lightning_bolt

Bedrock Edition:

NameNamespaced IDNumeric ID Translation key
Lightning Boltlightning_bolt93entity.lightning_bolt.name

Entity data[]

See also: Chunk format

Lightning bolts have entity data associated with them that contain various properties.

  • Entity data
    • Tags common to all entities

Advancements[]

Icon Advancement In-game description Parent Actual requirements (if different) Namespaced ID
Advancement-plain-raw.pngSurge Protector
Protect a villager from an undesired shock without starting a fire AdventureBe within 30 blocks of a lightning strike that doesn't set any blocks on fire, while an unharmed villager is within or up to six blocks above a 30×30×30 volume centered on the lightning strike.adventure/lightning_rod_with_villager_no_fire
Advancement-plain-raw.pngVery Very Frightening
Strike a Villager with lightning A Throwaway JokeHit a villager with lightning created by a trident with the Channeling enchantment.adventure/very_very_frightening

History[]

Java Edition Beta
1.5Added thunderstorms and lightning.
The ability for lightning to charge creepers and transform pigs into Zombie Pigmen has been added.
In multiplayer, the sky during a thunderstorm looks identical to when raining.
Java Edition
1.3.112w18aAs a result of singleplayer being changed to an internal server, the sky during a thunderstorm now looks the same as when raining.[3]
1.7.213w39aThe clouds and the sky again appear much darker during thunderstorms.
?The 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.
1.814w03aLightning now transforms 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 now chance (depending on regional difficulty) that a lightning strike spawns a "skeleton trap" skeletal horse.
1.1116w32aThe entity ID has been changed from LightningBolt to lightning_bolt.
1.1318w07aIf a player throws a trident enchanted with Channeling at a mob, a lightning bolt is summoned and strikes that mob. This is the first and only way that a player can manually summon lightning without commands.
1.1419w08aIf lightning strikes near a red mooshroom, it turns into a brown mooshroom and vice versa.
1.16Pre-release 1Lightning bolts can now be targeted by selectors and save to the world.
1.1720w45aLightning bolts can be led into a lightning rod within a 16x16 range.
20w46aLightning bolts can now be caught within a 32x32 range.
21w11aLightning bolts now clean oxidation off copper blocks.
Pocket Edition Alpha
v0.12.1build 1Added thunderstorms.
v0.14.0build 1Lightning now transforms villagers into witches.
v0.16.0build 1There is now a chance (depending on regional difficulty) for a lightning strike to spawn a "skeleton trap" skeletal horse.
Lightning can now be manually summoned with the /summon LightningBolt command.
Pocket Edition
1.1.0alpha 1.1.0.0The entity ID has been changed from lightningBolt to lightning_bolt.
Bedrock Edition
1.4.0beta 1.2.13.8If a player throws a trident enchanted with Channeling at a mob, a lightning bolt is summoned and strikes that mob.
1.13.0beta 1.13.0.9If lightning strikes near a red mooshroom, it turns into a brown mooshroom and vice versa.
1.16.100beta 1.16.100.51Hostile mobs can now spawn during thunderstorms in the day.
1.16.210beta 1.16.210.57Lightning bolts can now be caught within a 64x64 range.
1.16.220beta 1.16.220.52Lightning bolts now clean oxidation off copper blocks.
Upcoming Bedrock Edition
1.17.10beta 1.17.10.20Thunderstorms now occur as often as in Java Edition.
Legacy Console Edition
TU1CU1 1.00 Patch 1Added thunderstorms.

Issues[]

Issues relating to "Lightning" or "Thunder" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.

Trivia[]

  • Lightning, unlike other weather effects, does not have an image file associated with it. It is an entity, coded directly into the game engine, allowing for dynamic, realistic lightning.
  • In Bedrock Edition, lightning strikes closer to the player more often than in Java Edition, due to spawn distance limits.
  • Because lightning is an entity, commands and command blocks can be used to kill and remove them from the world.

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. "It's temporal and global"@notch on Twitter, April 7, 2011
  2. MC-125562 – resolved as "Works as Intended"
  3. MC-673