(WJHL) – Many people talk about “heat lightning,” but is there really such a thing?
If you see lightning in the sky, there has to be a thunderstorm somewhere near you.
Thursday night is a great example of that.
The Tri-Cities saw a thunderstorm located about 30 miles to the southeast of Johnson City. Viewers could see lightning when looking toward the south and southeast of the Tri-Cities.
Storm Team 11 Vipir Radar picked the storm up over Avery County, N.C. east to near Lenoir, N.C.
Lightning was observed in the storm about 30 miles from Johnson City.
It’s interesting to point out by using the exclusive technology of Storm Team 11 that the storm was close to 30,000 feet high at the time this image was taken. Cloud tops were actually closer to 40,000 feet in spots.
Storm Team 11 Vipir Radar captured the lightning in the storm as it was moving northeast through western North Carolina.
Because of the height of the storm and its location, people in the Tri-Cities were able to see the incredible lightning from miles away.
Ultimately, there is no such thing as heat lightning.
The next time you see lightning in the sky and skies above you are clear, or you even have a few clouds, take a look at a radar image and you will be able to see the storm that is producing the lightning.
A good case in point, years ago, Storm Team 11 received numerous phone calls asking about the “heat lightning” that was visible across the region. The Tri-Cities had clear skies that night, but there was a thunderstorm over Winston-Salem, N.C. The cloud tops with that storm were up to 50,000 feet in the atmosphere. Given the height of the storm and the fact that the lightning flashes were traveling out from the storm horizontally in the atmosphere, we were able to see the flashes in the sky as well.
The are different types of lightning. Cloud to cloud, cloud to air and cloud to ground are just a few. The higher the clouds associated with the thunderstorm, the better your chances of seeing lightning from a distance.