I’ve always been fascinated with thunder and lightning. Storms are actually relaxing to me. The rumbling thunder is comforting and the lightning usually puts on a good show as well. 7 surprising facts about thunder and lightening are listed below. Some of them might be familiar to you. I love learning new things and I hope I’ve found something that is new to you as well. I thought these facts were extremely interesting.
7. There Can’t Be Thunder without Lightning
Photo Credit: o-Chrissy-o
You might not always see the lightning bolt, but it is the charge from the lightning that causes the thunder. I read that more than 80 percent of the lightning flashes stay inside the clouds where they can’t be seen. I’ve also stood outside and watched the heat lightning. In case you aren’t familiar with this phenomenon, this is where there is tons of lightning flickering about the sky, but no thunder. Sometimes the storm is too far off to hear the thunder. There are also instances where the heat lightning is caused by the cloud reflection of lightning from a distant storm.
6. A Single Strike Consists of Multiple Strokes
Photo Credit: revelto
Did you ever wonder why lightning seems to flicker as it crosses the sky? This is because it isn’t just one single stream of light. There are multiple surges that follow the same path of the initial surge, thus creating a sense of flickering light. The combination of all these surges is so intense that the light given off can be compared to 100 million light bulbs being turned on and off in the sky. That’s an awful lot of light bulbs! These flickers also go both up and down. As a strike is coming down from the cloud, there is also a streamer coming up off the object that is about to be struck, once the initial stroke gets close enough to the object.
5. Storm Distance Can Be Determined by Lightning and Thunder
Photo Credit: WhiteGoldWielder
If you count the total number of seconds between the lightning bold and the clap of thunder, then divide this number by 5, you’ll get the amount of miles between you and the storm. I can’t help but think of the movie Poltergeist when I start counting to figure out the distance of a storm. There is a scene in the movie where the little girl is doing the same thing, which is where I learned this trick from. Of course, I’ve never had a tree come through the window and pull me outside the way she did either!
4. Florida Has More Lightning Strikes than Anywhere in the United States
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There are 25 to 30 million lightning strikes to the ground each year, but most of these occur in central Florida. A typical year of thunder storms brings about ten lightning strikes to every square mile of the central Florida area. 1993 was the only year that Missouri beat Florida in the number of lightning strikes. Most bolts of lightning seem to be many feet across as they strike the ground, but they are usually no thicker than a pencil. When you see these strikes, the thunder can only be heard from around 10 miles away. Noisy cities actually drown out a lot of the audible strikes of lightning, so city folks might only be able to hear thunder from strikes that are within a couple of miles away.
3. It is Possible to Survive a Lightning Strike
Photo Credit: Oriol Gascón
Anywhere from 5 to 30 percent of lightning strike victims actually die. Most people go into cardiac arrest when struck by lightning and appear to be dead. If someone with knowledge of CPR is nearby, then the lightning strike victim has an excellent chance of survival. I’ve met quite a few people who have survived being struck by lightning and no, they didn’t burst into flames the way cartoon characters do. People struck by lighting also aren’t electrified afterwards, so there’s no fear of being shocked by touching the person. A park ranger by the name of Roy Sullivan was struck a total of 7 times in his lifetime and lived to be 71 years old.
2. Fear of Thunder and Lightning Has Special Names
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk
Fear of lightning is known as keraunophobia and fear of thunder is called brontophobia. Of course, people who enjoy the outdoors might have a mild fear of being caught in a thunder storm, due to an increase in lightning, but not many have a completely irrational fear of either of these. Men are statistically the most affected by lightning from a storm, but I think this is because there are a larger number of men who are out camping, fishing, golfing, boating, and doing other outdoorsy things.
1. Fulgurites Are Made
Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
These are the coolest creations ever! They are glass tubes that form when lightning strikes sand or soil. As lightning strikes the ground, it instantly melts the silica or quartzose sand in the ground. The strike must be at least 1800 degrees Celsius, which is more than 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. It only takes a second for the glass tubes to be made. Some people call these shapes Petrified Lightning. I’ve only seen a small one up close. Apparently the largest specimen was found in Michigan back in 1984. It was 5 meters long and the boys who found it actually thought it belonged to a dinosaur at one time.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of thunder storms. The distant rumble and dramatic bolts of lightning always keep me waiting for more. Did you find any of these 7 surprising facts about thunder and lightening to be interesting? Do you enjoy storms that have lots of thunder and lightning?
Top Photo Credit: fgfathome