PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – You have probably been outside on a hot summer evening – when you see a flash! You can see the flash of the lightning, illuminating the storm cloud or the sky, but there’s no thunder. Why is that? Well, let’s explain…

A lot of people refer to this as heat lightning. The reason it’s called heat lightning is because it often occurs on hot summer days. However, there’s no such thing as heat lightning. You can have “heat lightning” on a cool fall day, if there are storms. But it’s more common in the summer when storms are taller.

Lightning always comes from a thunderstorm. What you’re seeing is the light from a distant storm that may be 20,000 to 40,000 feet tall. However, because the storm is too far away, the sound does not travel far enough to be heard. As a result, you see the lightning but don’t hear the thunder.