Both lightening and thunder occur at the same time, but the sound of thunder is heard after lightening is seen because light travels faster than sound. While lightening may be seen for miles, thunder is seldom heard beyond a 10-mile radius.Continue Reading
When lightning travels from clouds to the ground, it opens a little hole, or channel, in the air. Once the lightening disappears, the hole collapses and reverts back inwards. The resulting sound is thunder. Light travels at a rate of 186,282 miles per second, allowing the human eye to see a flash of lightning immediately as it happens. Sounds travels at the much slower rate of 1,087 feet, or one-fifth of a mile per second.
The rate at which the sound waves travel varies, depending on the temperature of the air and the wind's speed. Thunder appears to rumble or roll at times due to zigzag lines, or forks, that occur when lightning that strikes is not visible. These forks can branch out over several miles. These branches of lightning are further from the ground; therefore, they produce sounds of thunder, which take longer to be heard than the large bolt of lightning that originally produced the branched-out forks.Learn more about Storms
Thunder is the sound created when lightning passes through the air, causing it to rapidly heat and cool, resulting in a massive pressure wave that can be heard. A single lightning bolt can raise the temperature of the air around it as high as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.Full Answer >
The difference between thunder and lightning is that lightning is electromagnetic energy and thunder is sonic energy. Lightning actually causes thunder by rapidly heating and expanding the air around the path of the strike, explains a Library of Congress website.Full Answer >
Thunder is caused by lightning, so it cannot happen independently. The loud cracking sound of thunder occurs when lightning raises the surrounding air temperature by thousands of degrees, causing it to rapidly expand and compress, according to SciJinks.Full Answer >
Though it is theoretically possible to hear thunder and then see lightning, lightning actually causes thunder, so it has to come first. Thunder is the noise that's caused by the sound of the rapid expansion of air that gets suddenly heated by a bolt of lightning.Full Answer >