On average, the Wiregrass receives around 70 days with thunderstorms during the year, and the highest concentration of these occurs during the peak of the Summer..or right now. Many times you may hear thunder and see lightning, but never get the rain. Yesterday at my house I heard rumbling thunder for several hours and saw very little rain. So what is Thunder exactly?
First of all, we need to explain why you can never have thunder without lightning. Lighting MAY be too far away to observe when hearing thunder because it might be diffuse, or cloud to cloud, but..lightning always accompanies thunder.
The Southeast is also the lightning capitol of the United States. Lightning occurs when there are different charges, positive and negative within a thunderstorm. Lightning is VERY hot….five times hotter than the sun, and when it bolts…it releases a LOT of heat. A lightning bolt heats the air by 54,000 degrees Farenheit!
Heating the air this quickly, in literally fractions of a second, causes the air around the bolt to expand extremely quickly. This rapid expansion creates a shock wave that we hear as thunder. The speed of light is thousands of times faster than the speed of sound, which is why we hear thunder after we see lightning.
Sometimes we hear thunder as a loud, crisp cracking, and sometimes we hear it as a low, long rumbling. The way we hear thunder depends on our distance to the storm. If we are very close it sounds like a clap or a cracking sound. This is generally when the storm is right on top of you.
Rumbing..almost suspended thunder is when a storm is fmuch further away, and many times you do not see the lightning accompanied with it. The extended rumbling happens for two reasons: for one sound bounces off of other objects when it is far away, such as terrain and buildings, and two, you may be hearing thunder from different points on the stroke. A lightning bolt can extend for up to 5 miles, and hearing the thunder from different parts of it can make it sound longer. Also, there can be several bolts of lighting stemming from one, which extends the length you hear the rumble.