Nature Photography: Heat Lightning Sequence

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Things on the Artsology blog were a little quiet last week, and it’s because I was enjoying a vacation in Sandbridge, VA. But now that I’m back, I’ll slowly get around to sharing a few items of visual interest. Here’s something from last Thursday night: it was shortly after midnight, and I noticed a continuous stream of light flashes outside, so I went out on the beach house deck to witness a heat lightning storm which lasted at least 20 minutes.

I took some video footage during the heat lightning storm, and this trio of images shows a sequence of one of the more-dramatic lightning strikes that I witnessed, all of which took place in a fraction of a second. It’s pretty interesting to see how it was building stream (left), then exploded, lighting up the night sky (center), and then sent a focused lightning bolt into the water (right).

It was a somewhat surreal experience, as there was no audible thunder or other sound corresponding with this lightning storm – one could easily hear the waves crashing on the shore, and nothing else. I learned that there’s an explanation for this: “the actual phenomenon commonly called heat lightning is simply cloud-to-ground lightning that occurs very far away, with thunder that dissipates before it reaches the observer. At night, it is possible to see the flashes of lightning from very far distances, up to 100 miles, but the sound does not carry that far.” (source of this info here)

a 3-image sequence of heat lightning seen in Sandbridge, VA

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