Did you know that most lightning strikes never hit the ground? The vast majority of strikes occur inside the storm cloud itself. This 'in cloud' lightning can tell us a lot about a storms intensity. In fact, many in cloud strikes occur before the storm even begins to rain. I have learned to look for lightning strikes on the radar display and pay close attention when strikes occur before the radar indicates rain falling from the cloud. Why? because intensifying in cloud lightning is usually a signal that the storm is growing VERY rapidly. Violently! It's this type of storm that can suddenly drop rainfall rates of 2-4 inches per hour and flood streets and neighborhoods in a matter of minutes.
This is why, on days we know weather conditions are ripe to produce storms, we literally baby sit the radar. Watching for in cloud lightning strikes, to give your town an early warning tweet for a flooding threat.
(© 2016 KHOU)