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Is heat lightning real?

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CADILLAC — Summer is just around the corner, and we are already feeling the temperatures!

This past week, the Doppler 9&10 Weather Team has been forecasting temperatures in the 80s and low 90s. With the forecast, we have noticed some spotty showers and storms to pop-up in the afternoon and overnight.

Even when it is clear or partly cloudy skies you might see some lightning strikes. Growing up, you might have heard it called heat lightning.


Heat lightning can be described as lightning strikes that does not have thunderstorms associated with it. The term is mostly heard during the summer months when we have warmer conditions.

However, this is not true. All lightning needs a storm to occur in our atmosphere in order to exist. What usually happens is a storm is developed but is very far away from where the lightning strikes.

In clear skies and non-obstructed conditions, lightning can be seen as far as 100 miles way! However, thunder can only be heard from about 10 miles away. This leads people to believe that lightning is coming out of no where but the summer heat. However, it is occurring because the storm is far away and light (lightning) travels faster than sound (thunder).

So no, there is no such thing as heat lightning, just a storm that is probably far away! As we continue into the summer months, be on the lookout for these conditions!

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