Is "sheet lightning" dangerous?

I got engrossed in the Olympics tonight and got Auggie, The Cutest Dog on the Planet, out for his evening walk later than usual- a little after 10. It was a little cloudy, not raining at all, I could see a few stars- and suddenly there was all of this lightning. Not the jaggedy bolt kind, but the “sheet” kind that lights up the whole sky. After a few minutes of it, I got a little nervous and cut the walk short.

 Is this type of lightning dangerous?  Could I get struck by it, or is it only the bolts that strike?  And why are we having lightning with no rain or thunder?

No, it’s relatively safe. “Sheet lightning” is sort of a misnomer. All it is is the light from distant lighting strikes reflecting off the clouds. The actual storms that are generating it are dozens of miles away. You could still get struck by a wayward bolt, as lightning is known to be able to travel several tens of miles through the air, but unless the storm is basically on top of you, you’re generally safe.

Would that mean that you could theoretically see “sheet lightning” and be too far away to hear the thunder?

Yep. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of a time where I saw only sheet lighting and did hear any thunder.

Absolutely. Living in a thunderstorm (TS) area, I sometimes see big banks of TS clouds lining the horizon. Silent flashes punctuating the landscape for hours, the storms too distant for the thunder to be heard.