What Causes Thunder and Lightning

By The News Voice

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Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. Depending on the distance from and nature of the lightning, it can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble.

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Thunder is as you know is caused by lightning, which is basically a stream of electrons flowing between or within clouds, or between a cloud and the ground.

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Thunderstorms with lightning develop when the atmosphere is unstable. This happens  when warm air exists underneath much colder air. As the warm air rises it cools and condenses forming small droplets of water.

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The air surrounding the electron stream is heated in the thunderstorms. and when the heated air cools in the process, it produces a resonating tube of partial vacuum surrounding the lightning's path. The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts.

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This causes the column to vibrate like a tubular drum head and produces a tremendous crack. As the vibrations gradually die out, the sound echoes and reverberates, and generating the rumbling that we call thunder.

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If we are watching the sky, we see the lightning before we hear the thunder. That is because light travels much faster than sound waves.

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We can guess the distance of the lightning by counting how many seconds it takes until we hear the thunder. It takes approximately 5 seconds for the sound to travel 1 mile. If the thunder follows the lightning almost instantly, then you will know the lightning is too close for comfort!

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Thunderstorms are quite common. It is estimated that a lightning strike hits somewhere on the Earth's surface approximately 44 times every second, a total of nearly 1.4 billion lightning strikes every year.

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Did you know Thunder is not only heard during thunderstorms. Even though its  uncommon, but not rare, we can even hear then when it snows.

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