Have you seen it yet this summer?
It's a spectacle that rivals any fireworks display you've ever watched - and goes on far longer. And lately, the conditions have been perfect to catch the show. I'm talking about South Florida's displays of heat lightning. Just look around the evening sky, preferably late at night, and you may see what I mean. I have lived in seven states and one foreign country but I've never witnessed heat lightning that compares with the pyrotechnics South Florida puts on frequently each summer. The past two nights I've sat down and looked up, fascinated by it all over again. As it turns out, the name "heat lightning" is a misnomer. Heat has nothing to do with the flashes except that they normally come during the summertime.

Nope, heat lightning is simply distant lightning. No more complicated than that. At night, we can see lightning as far away as 100 miles but we can't hear the thunder at that distance. Even though heat lightning sometimes appears to be relatively near, it isn't. There's thunder all right ... somewhere else.

I think it's all pretty amazing. But what's so incredible about South Florida's heat lightning performances is that they can last for hours. A cloud lights up for an instant, then another nearby lights up. And another, all in rapid succession. On Monday night, I timed a few lightning strikes just to prove the point. They went like this: Flash! Six second pause. Flash! Six more seconds. Flash! Three seconds, flash! Eleven seconds ... flash! That's what I'm talking about, flashes and streaks of lightning that go on and on this way for long periods. Quite extraordinary, really. Because the lightning lacks audible thunder, all this flashing and streaking takes on an eerie beauty. We're accustomed to certain sounds following certain sights. A wine glass falls to the tile floor and we expect to hear the shatter. Our friend slams the front door and we expect to hear the thud. When we see a vivid white fork of lightning, we expect to hear the thunder. But we don't. Heat lightning is one of the things that make a South Florida summer worth the experience. Recently I wrote a blog that explained there's still plenty of time to enjoy the special savings that come with a summer vacation in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the bargains available through the Vacation Like A VIP promotion. There are other reasons, though, to spend time with this season in the subtropics. Summer's silent lightning surely is one of them.

Aug 21: Heat & Light
Posted by LauderBLOGGER
Follow more articles on Fort Lauderdale Beach at Sunny.org/Blog