What Is Heat Lightning?

Tools

By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - Many people in the Midwest and East Coast have probably heard the term "heat lightning" refer to a type of lightning that occurs on hot, summer days that doesn't have any thunder associated with it.

However, heat lightning really doesn't exist -- at least, not as a special kind of lightning. The reason you would not hear the thunder is simply because the lightning strike was too distant for you to hear it.

Light can travel much greater distances than sound, so if the lightning bolt is far enough away (say, over 10 miles), you'll see the flash, but the air will have long absorbed the sound of thunder before it reaches you. Areas with trees or city buildings can also help absorb the sound before it reaches 4-5 miles away.

Your Photos

YouNews Aurora from Mud Lake (New) Aurora from Mud Lake
Mild aurora last night that picked up between 2:30 and dawn. From Mud Lake, near Republic, Washington Wednesday morning.
YouNews Morning Doves (New) Morning Doves
We have a small covey of Morning Doves that has grown from 2 adults to somewhere between 10 and 12 over the past 7 years. They visit the feeder in the mornings and evenings.
YouNews Morning Doves Morning Doves
We have a small covey of Morning Doves that has grown from 2 adults to somewhere between 10 and 12 over the past 7 years. They visit the feeder in the mornings and evenings.