Why Is Lighting Seen Before the Thunder Is Heard?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 25, 2020 1:16:09 PM ET

Although thunder and lightning occur at the same time, the lightning is seen before the thunder is heard because light travels at a much faster speed than sound. Sound waves can also bounce off molecules in the air, causing it to travel in different directions. This accounts for the distorted rumbling sound of distant thunder while thunder that is close by can be heard as a loud crack or booming sound.