The truth about heat lightning

Get ready for a real myth buster about lightning…  How many summer nights have you sat outside and watched the heat lightning?  It is a calming light show.  It is nice to see the sky light up without feeling a threat of immediate storm danger.

What you are seeing is not really heat lighting. That is a common myth. One that that has been so sewn into the fabric of our culture that most people think is it a scientific weather term.

What you are really seeing is a distant thunderstorm just too far away to see the actual cloud to ground flash, or hear the thunder that accompanies lightning.

Many times it is mountains, hill or tree lines that prevent you from seeing the actual lightning flash.  In flat area like Florida where we do not have trees it is typically the curvature of the earth that prevents the observer from seeing the storm. 

What the light display is the far away flash being reflected off higher level clouds.  The sound of thunder is not present as it can only been heard about ten miles from the flash itself.

The reason you see these displays more in the summer months when it is so hot, is that is when conditions are present for evening thunderstorms.

Next time you are sitting on your back deck enjoying the night “heat lightning” you will think of this blog and still be among the few that know the truly what you are witnessing.   Last night this happened to me and I almost wished I did not know. I liked the idea of heat lighting for some reason, maybe because I have related it to many childhood memories.  Good news is it far away enough not to cause any storm damage to your home.

The storm is blocked from the viewer by the curve of the earth

The storm is blocked from the viewer by the curve of the earth