What exactly is "Thunder"?
By: Anjanette Swift
What actually is thunder?
On another not, the reason thunder ALWAYS happens after lightning and never at the same time as the lightning is because light travels faster than sound. The common myth of "if you count how many seconds between the lightning and the sound of thunder, that's the number of miles the thunderstorm is away from you" derives from that knowledge, in a way. However this myth is inaccurate. It actually takes about 5 seconds for thunder to travel one mile. So if you counted the seconds between the strike of lightning and the thunder and then divided that number by 5, then that would tell you approximately how far the storm was away.
TRY IT OUT!!!
1) You and a friend test out the speed of sound! Have you and your friend stand a far distance apart while still being able to see each other. Have one person clap once. When the other person hears the clap, that person should raise their hand. Then keep moving back until you can barely see the person (but can still see them enough to know that they have raised their hand). Have the person that clapped, time how long it takes for the other person to hear and record the data. This will show the speed of sound.
2) During the next thunder storm, after you see a flash of lightning, count the seconds between the flash and the thunder rumble. Then divide that number by five and log it. Then, watch the weather channel and see if that number correlates with where the thunderstorm is on the weather channel.