Lightning can be very deadly, but is lightning without thunder dangerous? Now, that is a very good question.
There are so many wonders in nature, beautiful yet deadly. A good example is lightning, beautiful in all its forms and equally as dangerous.
But lightning without thunder is a different case. First off, why would lightning be without thunder, and would it be considered dangerous?
That and many more is the question this article would be discussing as we proceed.
In some cases, lightning without thunder is harmless well in others, it is far from that. It depends on the situation in which it is experienced.
Is There Lightning Without Thunder?
There are a lot of myths about lightning and thunder and it is only normal for us to get lost in the fallacies rather than the facts.
An example of such a fallacy is lightning without thunder; such a thing can’t occur yet every now.
And then, there are reports about them so let’s talk about the concept of lightning without thunder.
Lightning Without Thunder
As I said earlier, there is no such thing as lightning without thunder. But what I failed to mention is that lightning can be seen without hearing thunder.
This means there is thunder, but it is muted before it gets to your hearing.
In cases like these, there are so many reasons behind it and the reason behind it determines if the lightning is dangerous or not. So here are the reasons.
Reason #1: Distance
When there is lightning without thunder, there is always one key factor in play, distance.
If a thunderstorm is happening at a faraway distance, you might see the lightning and not hear the thunder over the distance.
This happens because light and sound travel at different wavelengths.
And though they have similar properties, they are affected by their surrounding areas differently.
Light can travel over hundreds of miles, while sound waves can’t travel that far.
So if a thunderstorm is happening twenty to hundred miles away, you might see the lightning but you would hear the thunder over the distance.
Due to refraction, reflection, and the shape of the earth, the way sound travels is different from the way light travels, as seen here
This concept is what people refer to as heat lightning, sheet lightning, and occasionally silent lightning.
Heat lightning is the flicker of lights you see in the sky on summer nights every now but that is not our main focus for today.
Note: Basically, the lightning isn't actually lightning but rather a reflection of lightning which is why it doesn't carry the sound.
Reason #2: Obstruction
Sometimes, lightning without thunder might not be heat lightning.
Yes, it could be because of the distance of the thunder, but it wouldn’t be a flicker of light in the sky, it would be actual lightning. This is where it gets fun.
Light travels faster than sound, which is why you see lightning before you hear its thunder.
Since lightning travels faster and sound can’t make it over a certain distance, sound ways can be easily obstructed.
Lightning can travel well over 25 miles while, more often than not, thunder can’t.
Lightning can travel through certain mediums or be reflected through the ones they can’t pass.
Thunder, on the other hand, has a similar property but loses its speed and power as it is reflected and refracted.
The light reflected is still the same but the sound reflected becomes an echo.
A very similar concept also happens when both are refracted. In cases like that, lightning isn’t merely a reflection but rather lightning itself.
Sometimes clouds, mountains, and altitude all affect the way thunder travels.
Tip: So lightning might be very close but because of certain obstructions, the thunder might not be heard.
Is Lightning Without Thunder Dangerous?
Now with all that has been said so far, I think we have enough information to answer the question above.
As I said earlier, it depends on the reason behind the lightning without thunder to ascertain if it is dangerous or not.
If it is what people refer to as heat lightning, then there should be no cause for alarm.
Heat lightning is merely a flicker or little flashes of light in the sky so it would not cause any harm to anyone or anything.
It is merely a beautiful natural occurrence that should be enjoyed from afar so you have nothing to worry about.
Note: It poses no danger because it is merely a reflection of light without carrying any of the electrical charges that could be of harm.
Could It Be Heat Lightning?
When you see more than a flicker or flashes of light, then you should probably pay more attention because that screams worry.
When it is actual lightning, it means the thunder is only muted over and danger is close.
The lightning might not be that close but you can never be too careful.
Lightning is unpredictable and fast and you never know when it might strike.
The fact that you can see it fully rather than in flickers is something you should take into proper consideration. So if you see one of those, find a safe place to stay until it’s over.
All I’m trying to say is that flickers of lights in the sky, also known as heat lightning, are not in any way dangerous.
But when it is more than a flicker and the lightning is more visible, then there is danger lurking in a corner.
So, is lightning dangerous without thunder? Well, it depends!
How To Tell Which Silent Light Is Dangerous
For those who find it hard to discern between heat lightning and lightning without sound, it is mainly in appearance.
Heat lightning and lightning are different in their visibility.
Heat lightning is only a flicker and little flashes of light at night, most common on summer nights.
Lightning that is silent, on the other hand, is all the properties of normal lightning without the thunder.
Now that we know the difference between the two, you can now tell when to relax and enjoy the view and when to find safety.
Tip: Lightning is quite visible and more than flickers and flashes of light.
How To Stay Safe From Lightning
Chances are if you see lightning, you might get stuck, so instead of ignoring it, you are supposed to find a safe place to stay.
Below are some helpful tips on that.
Outdoor Safety Tips
- In case you are outside, go indoors. Find a safe place to stay inside.
- Do not lie down on the floor, instead crouch in a ball-like position on the floor if necessary.
- Don’t stay in open spaces like in the park, and find shelter immediately.
- Stay away from elevated surfaces.
- Avoid staying in groups, let there be space between everyone if there isn’t any choice.
- Avoid staying in wet places like a pond, pool etcetera.
- Avoid objects that conduct electricity.
- Avoid being exposed, so don’t stay in open vehicles like motorcycles and the like.
Tip: More importantly, avoid tall structures because lightning is more lighting to strike them.
Indoor Safety Tip
- Avoid water in the shower, sinks, toilet, and the like because lightning can travel through plumbing systems.
- Stay away from electric outlets like your phone, computer, television etcetera.
- Don’t lie on the floor or stay close to concrete walls.
- Also, stay away from windows and doors.
Is Thunder Dangerous?
No, thunder is merely the sound that accompanies lightning, so it is not necessarily dangerous.
On some occasions, it causes high disturbances like the rattling of windows when it is too loud.
The loud sound can be very scary at times and can put one ill at ease but it doesn’t necessitate danger. This entails that you shouldn’t be weary of thunder, but of lightning.
Is There Thunder Without Lightning?
Since we are talking about lightning without thunder, it is only normal to discuss the other infamous question, is there thunder without lightning?
No, there is no such thing as thunder without lightning.
Lightning is always accompanied by thunder, they are two things that are always together no matter the circumstances.
In case you have ever experienced such, it is because the lightning was obstructed by something like a cloud which is why you couldn’t see it.
So there is lightning with thunder, you just might not see it every time.
There is danger as there is beauty so it is only safe for us to wonder if earth’s most beautiful wonder is equally as dangerous.
So is lightning without thunder dangerous?
I’m sure at this point, we can all say that it depends on all the factors listed earlier in this article.
Stay safe when you have to, and enjoy the beauty when there is no danger. We have finally gotten to the end of this article and I hope all the information given has been helpful.