A Bolt From the Blue?

Throughout my career, I have been asked the question, "Can lightning occur in a clear sky?" When I explain, "no," people tell me about news stories with headlines like the one above.

Ace Flint Hills photographer Jim Saueressig II took this photo during a spectacular Kansas lightning storm last Friday evening. Jim's web site is here.
click to enlarge
You can see the sky is, in fact, blue directly above the point where the bolt struck the earth. But, the bolt originated from the cumulonimbus cloud to the left (east). There is no such thing as lightning that forms out of a completely clear sky.


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