# How does thunder form?

In its simplest form, thunder is the result of a shockwave that breaks the sound barrier. Thunder forms as the air around a bolt of lightning becomes superheated and explodes, producing a shockwave. This shockwave travels faster than the speed of sound, which produces a sonic boom, just as a fighter jet does when it travels faster than the speed of sound.

Thunder forms nearly instantaneously with lightning. However, because lighting travels at the speed of light and thunder travels at the speed of sound, the two are not perceived simultaneously. The difference between the time at which an individual sees lightning and hears the accompanying thunder is related to the distance between the observer and the lightning bolt. The difference in time between the two events can be used to determine distance from the storm.

To determine distance, an observer can time the seconds between a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder and then divide this figure by five to yield the distance to the lightning bolt in miles. For instance, if there is a 10-second delay between the lightning and thunder, the lightning bolt was approximately two miles away. Likewise, the movement of the storm can be determined by performing this calculation several times in succession. If the time between the lightning and thunder increases, the storm is moving away from the observer.

Reference:
Q&A Related to "How does thunder form?"
 Thunder and lightning form when the negative charge in a cloud gets big enough and it then seeks a path to the ground. Lightning forms when the negative charge streams from the cloud http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How+are+lightning+and+th...
 Marble is formed deep within the earth's crust from limestone and heat over hundreds of years. This process is called recrystallization. http://www.ask.com/web-answers/Science/Other/how_d...
 Thunder occurs when energy from lightning heats and rapidly expands the air. The resulting sound wave gets heard as thunder. While lightning and thunder occur at roughly the same http://www.ehow.com/about_6129434_thunder-_amp_-li...
 thunder is caused by lighting, which is a current of electrons from a negative pole to a positive one(cumulonimbus base to ground) the current use an ionized channel of air that has http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=200903...