Monday, June 04, 2007

Heat Lightning

We’ve a fair amount of heat lightning tonight. Somebody’s getting the real thing, but it’s not us. Who might it be? Well, it could be a long way off – it could be as far as 100 miles away from us, if conditions are right for reflection off the cloud layer. Thunder, however, only makes it about 15 miles at most.

So any electrical storm more than 15 miles away that can reflect the sight of a lightning bolt off a layer of clouds will show up as heat lightning (or, depending on where you live, “sheet lightning”).

We used to sit on the beach at night, watching the heat lightning over Long Island. Or somewhere south of us, as maybe people on the south shore of Long Island were also sitting on the beach watching the same heat lightning south of them.

Now that I think of it, I’ve never seen a thunderstorm while at sea. When I’m on a cruise, I’ve spent enough time out on deck at night and would certainly see anything happening, as the decks are fairly dark and you have great viewing conditions. Perhaps next time.

When I was really young, heat lightning was the most mysterious thing. That lasted about five minutes until someone explained what it was. Then it became one of the most interesting things. You sit there and wonder where the real storm is, what kind of show it’s putting on and if it might come your way. But it’s neat to watch.

And, of course, nobody ever died of being hit by heat lightning.


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