Lightning is nothing to mess with, but when caught on video in slow motion it is also mesmerizing. This video was taken in rural Benton County, Iowa, south of the town of Vinton by Danny Murphy on November 11, 2015.
Tonight a storm developed very quickly along a cold front in a very unstable atmosphere. A few cumulus clouds developed and before you knew it we had a big storm. Nothing severe…just one producing a heavy downpour and lots of lightning. I heard the term “heat lightning” thrown around a lot to describe the lightning within the storm. What you saw tonight was just lightning inside a thunderstorm….nothing more than that.
A thunderstorm produces lightning. Now if the storm is near by, you see the lightning followed by the sound of thunder. The closer the lightning strike is to you the shorter the time between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder. Now if the lightning/storm was far away from you, there would be no thunder heard but you could see lightning. This is what happened tonight for many people. The storm tonight was producing a lot of lightning. The storm top was about 45,000 ft…so you would be able to see the lightning from far away (dozens of miles). Some storms produce more lightning than others. This one tonight was one of them. Thunder is rarely heard from a storm more than 10 miles away.
The term “heat Lightning” came about because during the summer months, when it is hot, when large storms form and could be seen from far away without hearing the thunder. Typically the sky is clear overhead with the storm many miles away. Therefore the term caught on.
I hope that clears things up about the lightning tonight and not hearing the thunder associated with it.
Here is video of the lightning Tuesday evening taken by Kent Larson.
Summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena— lightning. But don’t be fooled, lightning strikes year round. The goal of this Website is to safeguard U.S. residents from lightning. In the United States, an average of 54 people are reported killed each year by lightning. Click here to learn more about lightning.
The below chart shows what type of weather event has caused death.