There is no such thing as heat lightning

Surprise your friends with this myth busting fact

There is no such thing as heat lightning
At night in the summer you may frequently see lightning flashes from a distant thunderstorm - what people mistakenly refer to as heat lightning. (Source: National Weather Service)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s a summer night and you see flashes of lightning in the night sky, but you don’t hear thunder or see the actual bolt of lightning. You may have been told by your parents or friends that this is “heat lightning".

Next time your friends or family tell you they see heat lightning, you can surprise them with a myth-busting fact: there is no such thing as heat lightning.

What many people refer to as “heat lightning” is simply a lightning flash from a distant thunderstorm. Heat, by itself, cannot directly create lightning (although it is true that thunderstorms happen more often when it is hot and humid outside).

In many instances, you can’t see the lightning bolt or hear the thunder because the storm is far away - it could be more than 10 miles away from your location. Mountains, trees, or the curvature of the earth can make it impossible to see the lightning bolt or hear the thunder.

At night in the summer you may frequently see lightning flashes from a distant thunderstorm - what people mistakenly refer to as heat lightning.
At night in the summer you may frequently see lightning flashes from a distant thunderstorm - what people mistakenly refer to as heat lightning. (Source: National Weather Service)

NBC12 Meteorologist Megan Wise discussed the heat lightning myth on a recent Facebook Live video on the NBC12 Facebook page. Scroll ahead to the 6:00 mark to hear her discuss the heat lightning myth.

You can catch Andrew Freiden and Megan Wise on Facebook Live discussing a new weather topic every weekday on the NBC12 Facebook page at 1 p.m.

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