With the Atlantic hurricane season approaching its annual peak, curiosity abounds regarding hurricanes. A WDAY viewer asked whether hurricanes have thunder and lightning like thunderstorms do.
Actually, most hurricanes generally have little to no lightning. The thunder and lightning associated with thunderstorms comes from the build-up of static electrical charge as raindrops, snowflakes and hail come into contact with each other in the updrafts and downdrafts of a thunderstorm. This results in lightning, thunder, big drops of rain and sometimes hail.
Hurricanes, however, do not usually have much in the way of updrafts and downdrafts. They mostly just spin around and around with a weaker, more generalized rising motion that does not create electrical charge separation. So most hurricanes are characterized by an extremely strong wind whipping sideways a huge amount of tiny, pulverized rain droplets.
Occasionally, localized updrafts around the hurricane's eye wall do generate thunderstorms with intense lightning within the hurricane circulation.