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Kirill Ermakov
Kirill Ermakov

Thunder And Lightning

Lightning is the most spectacular element of a thunderstorm. In fact it is how thunderstorms got their name. But wait a minute, what does thunder have to do with lightning? Well, lightning causes thunder.

Thunder and Lightning

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Lightning is a discharge of electricity. A single stroke of lightning can heat the air around it to 30,000C (54,000F)! This extreme heating causes the air to expand explosively fast. The expansion creates a shock wave that turns into a booming sound wave, known as thunder.

As ice crystals high within a thunderstorm flow up and down in the turbulent air, they crash into each other. Small negatively charged particles called electrons are knocked off some ice crystals and added to other ice crystals as they crash past each other. This separates the positive (+) and negative (-) charges of the cloud. The top of the cloud becomes positively charged with particles called protons, while the base of the cloud becomes negatively charged.

The accumulation of electric charges must be great enough to overcome the insulating properties of the air. When this happens, a stream of negative charges pours down toward a high point where positive charges have clustered due to the pull of the thunderhead.

The connection is made and the protons rush up to meet the electrons. It is at this point that we see lightning and hear thunder. A bolt of lightning heats the air along its path causing it to expand rapidly. Thunder is the sound caused by the rapidly expanding air.

Thunder is the sound caused by a nearby flash of lightning and can be heard for a distance of only about 10 miles from the lightning strike. The sound of thunder should serve as a warning to anyone outside that they are within striking distance of the storm and need to get to a safe place immediately!

Thunder is created when lightning passes through the air. The lightning discharge heats the air rapidly and causes it to expand. The temperature of the air in the lightning channel may reach as high as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun. Immediately after the flash, the air cools and contracts quickly. This rapid expansion and contraction creates the sound wave that we hear as thunder.

Although a lightning discharge usually strikes just one spot on the ground, it travels many miles through the air. When you listen to thunder, you'll first hear the thunder created by that portion of the lightning channel that is nearest you. As you continue to listen, you'll hear the sound created from the portions of the channel farther and farther away. Typically, a sharp crack or click will indicate that the lightning channel passed nearby. If the thunder sounds more like a rumble, the lightning was at least several miles away. The loud boom that you sometimes hear is created by the main lightning channel as it reaches the ground.

Since you see lightning immediately and it takes the sound of thunder about 5 seconds to travel a mile, you can calculate the distance between you and the lightning. If you count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder, and then divide by 5, you'll get the distance in miles to the lightning: 5 seconds = 1 mile, 15 seconds = 3 miles, 0 seconds = very close.

Keep in mind that you should be in a safe place while counting. Remember, if you can hear thunder, chances are that you're within striking distance of the storm. You don't want to get struck by the next flash of lightning.

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Strengthen Your HomeCut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home. Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances and electronic devices.

Make an Emergency PlanCreate an emergency plan so that you and your family know what to do, where to go and what you will need to protect yourselves from the effects of a thunderstorm. Identify sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study and play.

From the clouds to a nearby tree or roof, a lightning bolt takes only a few thousandths of a second to split through the air. The loud thunder that follows the lightning bolt is commonly said to come from the bolt itself. However, the grumbles and growls we hear in thunderstorms actually come from the rapid expansion of the air surrounding the lightning bolt.

As lightning connects to the ground from the clouds, a second stroke of lightning will return from the ground to the clouds, following the same channel as the first strike. The heat from the electricity of this return stroke raises the temperature of the surrounding air to around 27,000 C (48,632 F). The rapid rise in temperature creates a rapid increase in the air pressure as well, rising to 10 to 100 times the normal atmospheric pressure. Under such pressure, the heated air explodes outward from the channel, compressing the surrounding air. As the heated air expands, the pressure drops, the air cools, and it contracts. The result is a shock wave, with a loud, booming burst of noise sent in every direction.

Because electricity follows the shortest route, most lightning bolts are close to vertical. The shock waves nearer to the ground reach your ear first, followed by the crashing of the shock waves from higher up. Vertical lightning is often heard in one long rumble. However, if a lightning bolt is forked, the sounds change. The shock waves from the different forks of lightning bounce off each other, the low hanging clouds, and nearby hills to create a series of lower, continuous grumbles of thunder.

Lightning strikes the U. S. about 25 million times each year. Typically, Southeastern and Gulf coast states experience more lightning than other areas of the country, with Florida usually having the highest annual frequency of lightning strikes. Lightning is a significant weather hazard that you should always take seriously. Although the odds of being struck by lightning within your lifetime amount to about one in 15,300, lightning strikes kill about 20 people each year in the United States, and injure hundreds more. While almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive, significant health impacts such as cardiac arrest, thermal burns, loss of consciousness, temporary hearing loss, and breathing problems can result. Long-term side effects can include spinal cord weakness, difficulty concentrating, muscle weakness, and sensory loss.

A thunderstorm is classified as a severe thunderstorm when it contains large (at least one inch) hail and/or winds of 58 MPH or greater. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be affected by lightning. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles ahead of or trailing a storm. Thunderstorms can occur by themselves, in clusters, or in lines. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and produces heavy rain for 30 minutes to an hour.

The National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm watches and warnings to alert the public of potential severe weather. It is important to understand the difference between watch and warning so you know what to do to stay safe:

The negative charge is attracted to the Earth's surface and other clouds and objects. When the attraction becomes too strong, the positive and negative charges come together, or discharge, to balance the difference in a flash of lightning (sometimes known as a lightning strike or lightning bolt). The rapid expansion and heating of air caused by lightning produces the accompanying loud clap of thunder.

Thunderstorms are common occurrences on Earth. It is estimated that a lightning strike hits somewhere on the Earth's surface approximately 44 times every second, a total of nearly 1.4 billion lightning strikes every year.

Owing to the fact thunderstorms are created by intense heating of the Earth's surface, they are most common in areas of the globe where the weather is hot and humid. Landmasses, therefore, experience more storms than the oceans and thunderstorms are also more frequent in tropical areas than the higher latitudes.

All the negative bits that collect near the bottom of the cloud are called electrons. Positive bits known as particles start to collect under the thunder cloud because they are attracted by the electrons near the bottom of the cloud.

People with astraphobia feel extreme anxiety or debilitating fear when preparing for a thunderstorm. They may watch weather reports obsessively or have panic attacks (rushes of anxiety that cause intense physical symptoms) during a storm. Another name for astraphobia is brontophobia.

With treatment, you might overcome your fear of thunderstorms. Or you might manage astraphobia symptoms long term. The best way to get over an extreme fear of thunderstorms is to seek help from a medical professional.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans are acutely familiar with thunder and lightning. Not only do those conditions characterize the local Tampa weather, they also described the team's running attack a few years ago, when Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn shared carries.

Despite each player's versatility, Phillips' ultra-aggressive play has helped him assume the "thunder" role to Allen's "lightning," which last year struck several times, as he tied for third on the team in creating turnovers.

Thunder and Lightning share the elemental powers found in a thunderstorm. Lightning is able to release bolts of electricity and harness lightning, hence his name, while Thunder creates powerful sonic thunderblasts which he can control to varying degrees. Combined, their powers are capable of creating rainstorms. They also have flight capabilities: While Lightning transforms the lower half of his body into electricity, allowing him to fly, Thunder uses a cloud which carries him. As brothers, the two share a psychic link that allows them to communicate with each other. While in the sky, these brothers can teleport themselves to anywhere they desire. 041b061a72


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