Is heat lightning real? A meteorologist explains

Not an actual type of lightning

Lightning
Lightning (Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – It is, kind of, but not really.

You’re sitting on your porch on a warm summer night and off in the distance you see a flash of lightning, but you hear no thunder. This is commonly referred to as heat lightning, but it’s not really a thing.

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Many people incorrectly believe that heat lightning is a specific type of lightning. In reality, it is just light produced by a distant thunderstorm. The light is then reflected off of higher-level clouds allowing it to be seen from great distances. The observer is simply too far away to hear the thunder associated with the lightning.

Typically, the sound of thunder only travels approximately ten miles.

You will notice this a lot as our daily and highly-electrified sea breeze storms get going. As the storms push way off into the sea as night falls, you’ll likely see the lightning way off in the distance, but hear no thunder. It’s just the same old lightning, but so far away you can’t hear the thunder.


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