Skip to content Skip to navigation

Five Big Weather Myths Debunked

Five Big Weather Myths Debunked

Setting the record straight on false weather facts.

Five Big Weather Myths Debunked

Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 20:00

Karin Heineman, ISTV Executive Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- Predicting and analyzing weather is a highly sophisticated scientific endeavor these days. But, it is also peppered with a good deal of lore. We're here to debunk some popular weather myths.

Myth Number One:

Heat lightning or the distant flashes of lightning you see in the sky (without hearing the clap of thunder) during the hot summer months only occur because it is hot out.

Wrong. The truth is you're actually seeing lightning from a storm that's really far away. Since most severe thunderstorms often happen during hot summer months -- the name "heat" lightning stuck.

Myth Number Two:

The Earth is farthest from the sun in January.

Not True. January is wintertime in the U.S. often bringing colder temperatures. The earth itself, however, is actually closest to the sun this time of year. But since the U.S. is located in the Northern hemisphere, which is tilted slightly away from the sun in January, the temperatures tend to be chilly.

Myth Number Three:

Hurricanes and typhoons are different types of storms?

Wrong.  They are the same type of storm. What they're called depends on the location of the storm. What's known as a hurricane in Florida is called a typhoon in the Western Pacific. What's called a typhoon in the Western Pacific is called a cyclone in the Indian Ocean.

Myth Number Four:

Clouds coming out of airplanes are filled with chemicals.

No. What you see is basic physics. When warm air from the engines hits the cool air in the atmosphere, it produces condensation that you can see. The same process happens when you breathe out on a cold day.

Myth Number Five:

Lightning only strikes close to a storm.

Wrong. Lightning can strike as far as five to ten miles from the storm. So don't underestimate your risk for being struck by lightning even if you're not in the middle of the storm. The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 12,000 and the odds of hitting the Powerball lottery are 1 in 175 million.  You're more likely to get hit by lightning.


Get Inside the Science

15 Weather Myths Debunked

Marshall Shepherd, WxGeeks

Filed under


Authorized news sources may reproduce our content. Find out more about how that works. © American Institute of Physics

Author Bio & Story Archive

Karin Heineman

Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV.