WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

What is heat lightning?

Posted November 3, 2016

Difference between heat lightning and regular lightning?

Mike Moss: Heat lightning is just a name that is sometimes used to describe regular lightning that is too far away for the thunder to be heard or for the lightning bolt itself to be seen. Instead, all you see is a silent flicker in the distance, often shaded kind of an orange color due to scattering by air molecules, dust and haze.

A good rule for pools is that if you can hear thunder, the storm is probably within about ten miles and is close enough that the next strike could be at your location, so it is a good time to get out and seek shelter in a safe place like inside a sturdy building or a car with a hardtop. If there is a lot of noise at the pool (loud music, people splashing around, fans blowing, etc) it would be a good idea for someone to get away from the noise and listen for thunder from time to time, or to stop the noise on occasion so that thunder can be heard. Also note that if the wind is blowing fairly strong toward the storm, you may not be able to hear thunder until lightning is a good deal closer than ten miles.

Rheann Lane's full question: I want to know the different between heat lighting and regular lighting. Is heat lighting real, my friends said you do not need to get out of the pool when it is heat lighting.


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