How "wide" is a bolt of lightning?
I know it can be as small as 0.01" in diameter, and recall from classes that it usually is about 1" or less initially.

Of course the plasma expands quickly and looks/gets bigger.

These numbers were found by having lighting pass through some mesh, with the resultant hole that was left being the determinant of diameter.

Also there were fused sand particles where strikes occurred that were used to estimate.

The problem is, what do you call the diameter?  The initial conduction?  The plasma at the very start?  After it has a chance to expand slightly? 

The apparent diameter in pictures I've taken seem to be just what is visualized with the very high contrast between the surrounding air, usually almost dark, and the very hot spark.

I know this is not scientifically exhaustive, but a gathering of recollections from some papers and weather texts.
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RE: How "wide" is a bolt of lightning? - by Dale.Reid - 2021-01-03, 21:54

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