Q:

Can you have thunder without lightning?

A:

Thunder is caused by lightning, so it cannot happen independently. The loud cracking sound of thunder occurs when lightning raises the surrounding air temperature by thousands of degrees, causing it to rapidly expand and compress, according to SciJinks.

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Within a fraction of a second, lightning is capable of heating the air as high as 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit, SciJinks states. After being heated and compressed, the expanded columns of air shrink and cool down, giving off the initial "clap" of thunder. The air columns continue to vibrate for a short time, releasing the residual sound waves of thunder. Occasionally, lightning appears without a thunder clap because the sound wave occurred too far away to be heard.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How is thunder made?

    A:

    Thunder is the sound created when lightning passes through the air, causing it to rapidly heat and cool, resulting in a massive pressure wave that can be heard. A single lightning bolt can raise the temperature of the air around it as high as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

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    Where does thunder come from?

    A:

    Thunder comes from the rapid movement of air in a lightning bolt. Due of the speed at which lightning bolts travel, the surrounding air does not have enough time to expand. This compressed air creates a shock wave similar to an explosion, causing thunder.

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    A:

    Although thunder and lightning occur at the same time, the lightning is seen before the thunder is heard because light travels at a much faster speed than sound. Sound waves can also bounce off molecules in the air, causing it to travel in different directions. This accounts for the distorted rumbling sound of distant thunder while thunder that is close by can be heard as a loud crack or booming sound.

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    What is the difference between thunder and lightning?

    A:

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