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Meteorology (Weather)/Non jagged lightning


Thirty five years ago I saw something very strange and have never seen it again. I was living in the San Gabriel Mts of southern California. It was late august, night, and the sky was totally covered with clouds. A spectacular lightning storm was occurring. Lightning flashes were moving from cloud to cloud. Dozens of continuing flashes from directly overhead to the horizon was taking place. Not one jagged bolt of lightning was seen, just the cloud cover flashing light. All of it was cloud lightning and none of it was reaching the ground and there wasn't a drop of rain. The strange thing was that there wasn't any sound of thunder. The flashes were from the horizon to directly overhead but there wasn't a sound. I know that so called heat lightning is simply a thunderstorm too far away to hear the thunder but a lot of the lightning was directly overhead and yet I heard nothing. Hundreds of people in the little mountain village of Wrightwood were standing in the street watching in total amazement.
Thanks for your time.

Hi Jim

The answer may be that the cumulonimbus cloud (thunderstorm cloud) had a very low base to the ground which would cause less jaggedness:

or, the lightning may be a positive charged single lightning stroke which would mean that it wasn't composed of multiple strokes which then would reduce the jaggedness:

For more about lightning:  

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Donald Rosenfeld


Any questions (except private) answered from the 1st grade level on up pertaining to any aspect of Weather. I am a 20 year member of the American Meteorological society and a long time forecaster of eastern United States snow storms and Hurricanes.

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