Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. Depending on the distance and nature of the lightning, thunder can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble (brontide). The sudden increase in pressure and temperature from lightning produces rapid expansion of the air surrounding and within a bolt of lightning. In turn, this expansion of air creates a sonic shock wave, similar to a sonic boom, which produces the sound of thunder, often referred to as a clap, crack, or peal of thunder. The distance of the lightning can be calculated by the listener based on the time interval from when the lightning is seen to when the sound is heard.
By Dean Hanley
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