Lightning without Thunder: Interesting Facts about What Makes a Storm
Nature is the most fascinating part of existence on earth. It encompasses some of the biggest and greatest phenomena, the scariest of natural disasters, and the most beautiful creatures both on land and in water. There are so many aspects of nature that are left unknown to humans and so much that we still need to understand why and how things work in the way that they do. To us, many of these things occur naturally, and we don’t think twice before seeing what we witness. One of the biggest examples of this is thunderless lightning, something we can visually see and hear as an indicator of a storm nearby. However the world of lightning without thunder is much greater than we know, and I’m here to explain why.
Where Does Lightning Come From?
Lighting is something that many of us have witnessed in our lifetimes, a striking light that glistens through the sky. Mostly associated with scary, spooky, and of course storms many of us don’t really know where lightning actually comes from. There are so many frequently asked questions surrounding the topic such as ‘does lightning make noise?’ and ‘what is lighting but no thunder?’All of these are extremely valid and will be put into perspective soon, once the process of the creation of lighting and thunder is understood. Lighting doesn’t just strike out of nowhere, it has a specific path and comes from the sky downwards. Lighting is actually an electrical discharge that is formed when there is an imbalance between storm clouds and the ground. What we witness on the ground is just a fraction of the amount of lightning that occurs in the sky and amongst the clouds.
The Cause Of Thunder And Lightning
So we now understand where lightning comes from and have a brief understanding of why it occurs, but what creates this electrical discharge, and what causes heat lightning? Silent lightning comes as a result of the energies between the clouds and the ground. In this type of situation, the air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges of the ground and clouds. When the charges are built up enough (as a storm begins to occur) the insulating capacity of the air will break down. This breakdown causes a rapid discharge of electricity, and we all know it as lightning. Lightning can be seen in different shapes and forms depending on the depth and capacity of such breakdowns.
Does Lightning Make Thunder?
Another common misunderstanding when dealing with storms and their byproducts is the idea that you can have a lightning storm, no thunder. When a storm occurs both thunder and lighting will appear, lighting is a variable that we can see and thunder is a variable that we can hear but are both depictive of a storm, in some cases simply warning us of what’s to come. So what comes first, thunder or lightning? Lightning will always come before thunder, this is because lightning is actually the cause of thunder. So how does lightning cause thunder?
Thunder is caused by lightning and appears as a result of the bright light striking energy. The amount of energy created by a lightning strike causes the air directly above it to heat up to a temperature of around 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 27,760 °C). This happens in a matter of seconds and thus the air has no time to expand, which creates very high pressure.
This now high-pressure air expands outwards and compresses the air that surrounds the heated channel. This causes a disturbance in all directions of the point of the lightning strike, which is also known as a shock wave. This shock wave that occurs can be heard from at least 10 yards (ca. 9 m) away and will die down to a regular sound wave known as thunder.
Is There Always Lightning With Thunder?
So can you have thunder without lightning or lightning without thunder? It is simply impossible to have thunder without lighting. As lightning is the sole cause of creating thunder, it simply cannot occur without it. Thunder is a direct byproduct of lightning and needs a large current of intense heat to be created. Does thunder always follow lightning?
Yes, thunder will always come after lighting, in many cases when a storm is brewing you will be able to witness this process when looking up at the sky. First, you will see the lighting as a bright light above you, and minutes or sometimes even seconds later you will hear the loud sound of the thunder, emanating that a storm is approaching.
However, this is different for lightning. Although thunder cannot appear without lightning, in some cases lightning may appear without thunder. This is not because thunder didn’t occur but simply because it may be too far away to be heard. When you witness lightning without hearing thunder it is known as heat lightning as is most commonly witnessed during the summer months of the year.
What Does Lightning Without Thunder Mean?
When you witness continuous lightning without thunder, you are simply witnessing a storm that is far away from your exact location. Because lighting is so powerful and creates heat of light that is intensely bright, it is almost always visible unless the brightness of the sun overpowers it. However, thunder is not as widespread. Thunder occurs locally to the storm so for example if the storm is occurring on the east you will hear the thunder on the east, however, if you are in the west you may see the lightning from the east but not hear the thunder at all. This understanding is one of the few ways that researchers and scientists are able to predict storms, how long they will be and in which part of the city they will occur.
Interesting Thunder And Lightning Facts
- Lightning can strike up to 25 miles (ca. 40 km) away from the center of the storm.
- Lightning can carry over 100 million volts of electricity.
- A lighting strike happens in just 2 microseconds.
- There are many types of lightning.
- Because sound travels much slower than light, you will always see the lightning before you hear the thunder.
- The fear of thunder is known as Brontophobia.
Now that you know a lot more about both thunder and lighting and have the answer to the most asked question “does lightning come before thunder?” you are well on your way to becoming a strong pro. Storms are a daily occurrence and happen much throughout the year.
They are important parts of nature and come with the ability to clean our planet on an extremely large scale. You now have a better understanding of what causes thunder and lighting, how this process happens, and why, which also gives you a better understanding of nature as a whole. So the next time you are in or witnessing a storm, why not put these concepts into place and educate others on the interesting world of the sky above.
- Why did you like the article?!
- Ooh, you didn't like it? But why?
The Nature of Catalpa Tree Worms: Why Do Planet & People Need Them
There are so many unique animals and trees within the ...
Creepy Trees On the Planet: Where To Find Scary Looking Trees
Have you ever watched a horror movie, a scary thriller, ...