TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - As we’ve talked about this week, thunderstorms are very common in the Wabash valley.
And within a thunderstorm, the most dangerous part is lightning.
A term we often hear during the summer is heat lightning.
The thing about that term, is it’s not what you think.
Many people think of heat lightning because they see it during the summer on hot and humid nights.
We tend to think it’s the heat that causes that lightning, which is not true.
What we actually see is the lightning from a storm that’s much farther away.
We are seeing that lightning, but not hearing the thunder.
Take for example, a storm that’s happening 100 miles to our west.
The curvature of the earth causes the sound of the thunder to not reach us.
But since the flashes of light that we see don’t bounce off the earth, we still see the lightning.
You can see lightning from a storm up to 100 miles away.
But unless we are more like 10 to 15 miles from the storm, we likely won’t hear the thunder.
So the term “heat lightning” really isn’t true.
The lightning isn’t caused by the heat we get on a humid summer night.
It’s just the lightning reaching us without the sound making it to us.
Now keep in mind, lightning awareness week is the week of June 21st.
The Storm Team will have much more lightning facts to talk about that week.