Weather Events

Why do I sometimes see lightning strike before I hear thunder?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. While thunder and lightning form at the same time, both caused by the same connection of ionized air between the sky and the ground, they do not reach distant locations simultaneously. Because the speed of sound is far slower than the speed of light, the light from a flash of lightning travels much more quickly than the sound wave that accompanies it. As such, the farther away people are from the initial point of a lightning strike, the longer it will take the thunderclap to reach them. For this reason, many people use the amount of time between a flash of lightning and the clap of thunder to judge how far away from them an electrical storm is taking place.

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