Meteorologist Ray Petelin is back with another home science lesson!By Ray Petelin

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When people refer to heat lightning, they are usually talking about seeing lightning, but not hearing thunder in the evening or nighttime, usually during the summer months.

Heat lightning isn’t a specific type of lightning, though.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

The simple explanation is that “heat lightning” is just a thunderstorm that is too far away to be heard.

If you remember from a previous segment, light travels faster than sound.

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Light also can travel greater distances. Thunder can only travel about ten miles.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

The lightning associated with these distant storms can look a little different, and there is a good explanation for that.

First, you are seeing the flash from far away.

The actual lightning may be blocked by hills, trees, or buildings, so you only may see the light reflecting off higher clouds in the distance.

Also, Earth’s curvature could put the storm’s lightning below the horizon from your location, only allowing you to see that reflection off the other higher clouds.

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