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Weather Talk: The connection of lightning and thunder

During a thunderstorm, it can be amusing to count the seconds between a flash of lightning and its slightly delayed boom of thunder. The light of a lightning strike reaches your eyes almost instantaneously, but the sound of thunder travels throug...

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During a thunderstorm, it can be amusing to count the seconds between a flash of lightning and its slightly delayed boom of thunder.

The light of a lightning strike reaches your eyes almost instantaneously, but the sound of thunder travels through the air at a slower speed, approximately 600 miles per hour. So when you see lightning flash, count the seconds until you hear the big boom. Each second represents about one-fifth of a mile. If you count up to five, the lightning strike was a mile away.

This method won’t work when the lighting is too far away because the sound of the boom won’t reach your ears at all.

Sometimes at night, we see a silent reflection of lightning reflected off distant clouds as a vague, eerie flash in the night. This is often called heat lightning but all it really amounts to is a reflection of distant lightning without sound.

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