Typically, hurricanes do not produce lightning; and when they do, it is not as much lightning as storms that form 30 to 60 degrees north or south of the equator. Observations of hurricane Georges’ lightning activity found it was about 10 times less than that found in a typical thunderstorm.

Hurricanes are comprised of spiral bands of convective clouds generally not associated with significant lightning. They contain only a small amount of supercooled water above the melting level due to relatively low vertical velocities. In other words, hurricanes lack vertical winds that cause water and ice to rub together reducing the chance for charge separation—lightning—to occur.

Lyons and Keen generalized about lightning morphology in tropical storms and proposed the following:

  1. There is little lightning within the inner portions, including the eyewall, of mature, well-organized hurricanes. — read more about eyewall lightning activity here
  2. Lightning occurs within the convective elements of the outer bands of tropical storms and hurricanes during most stages of the system’s life cycle (there may be considerable storm to storm variability).
  3. If concentrated burst(s) of lightning (often with relatively low stroke rates) occur within about 100-150 km of the center, this may well indicate further intensification, beginning within the next 6-12 h.

Lyons, W. A., and C. S. Keen, 1994: Observations of lightning in convective supercells within tropical storms and hurricanes. Mon. Wea. Rev., 122, 1897–1916.