You’ve probably seen heat lightning — those far off flickers of light miles away up in the clouds.
But did you know that heat lightning is really just ordinary lightning that is too far away for you to hear thunder from?
Lightning doesn’t ordinarily travel well beyond 10 to 12 miles, but you can easily see lightning flashes up in the clouds from over 50 miles away. That’s why you can’t always hear thunder when you see heat lightning.
So why do we call it heat lightning? The answer is probably best explained by the fact that lightning is usually seen during the warm summer evenings, when the hot conditions are ripe for thunderstorms to form.
This video shows a heat lightning storm in action: