MYTH: 'Heat Lightning' is a strange phenomenon caused by hot weather.
TRUTH: 'Heat lightning' is simply distant, ordinary lightning, too far away for thunder to be audible to the observer. 'Heat lightning' is not another type of lightning - it is an unofficial name given to visible flashes of light from ordinary lightning in thunderstorms a great distance away, usually well below the horizon.
Heat lightning is so named because it is often seen on hot summer nights, a time of year when thunderstorms are common. These flashes are often an early warning sign that storms are approaching, because the lightning you see may be moving your way.
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