1. Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. When a lightning bolt travels through the air, it opens up a small void of space, called a channel. Once the light is gone, the air collapses back in and creates a sound wave that we hear as thunder.
  2. You can calculate how far away a storm is by counting the seconds from when you see the lightning to when you hear the thunder. For every five seconds, the storm is approximately one mile away.
  3. The term for the fear of thunder and lightning is “astraphobia”.
  4. Thunder is not only heard during thunderstorms. It can also occur during volcanic eruptions or heavy snowstorms, which are known as thundersnow.
  5. While we usually hear thunder as one big rumble, each bolt of lightning can actually cause multiple sounds of thunder, depending on the distance and intensity of the lightning.
  6. The temperature of a lightning bolt can reach up to 30,000 Kelvin (53,540 degrees Fahrenheit), which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
  7. The speed of sound is around 767 miles per hour. Because light travels faster than sound, we see the lightning before we hear the thunder.
  8. The island of Java is the most thundery place on Earth, with an average of 220 thunderstorm days per year.
  9. “Thunder” is derived from “Thor,” the Norse god of thunder. Thor was said to create thunder and lightning by striking his hammer.
  10. Thunder can’t exist without lightning, as it’s the rapid heating and cooling of air by the lightning bolt that causes the thunder.
  11. Under certain conditions, thunder can cause a sonic boom. This happens when the sound of the thunder is concentrated along the path of the lightning.
  12. Thunder isn’t typically heard more than 15 miles away from the location of the lightning strike.
  13. The intensity and loudness of the thunder depends on the temperature and humidity of the air.
  14. Thunderstorms are more likely in the spring and summer months and during the afternoon and evening hours.
  15. Sound travels slower in cooler air. That’s why the rumbling of distant thunder is prolonged.
  16. Continuous or “rolling” thunder, lasting more than a few seconds, is generally a result of the echo from multiple thunder noise sources at varying distances from the listener.
  17. The loudest thunder ever recorded was 108 decibels, roughly equivalent to a live rock music concert.
  18. Thunder can’t hurt you. It’s the lightning that’s dangerous: an average of 49 people are killed each year in the U.S. by lightning strikes.
  19. Thunder has been used in several cultural and religious practices. In some cultures, it’s considered a sign from the gods.
  20. During a thunderstorm, animals can often sense the incoming weather change before humans. This is because they can hear the infrasonic sound pulses that thunder makes, which are too low-pitched for humans to hear.

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