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Heather’s Weather Whys: The sound of storms

A good thunderstorm ignites all of the senses. We can feel the wind, see the sky darken. But the sounds of a good storm can be the most intense.
Credit: WGRZ

BUFFALO, N.Y. —

If you see a flash of lightning, close your eyes and count the seconds until you hear the accompanying thunder. Then divide by five. You now know about how many miles away you are from that recent lightning strike. 

The simple idea behind that little math game many of us have played is that light travels faster than sound. Sometimes we’re so close to a storm that lightning and thunder seem to occur at the exact same time. The intense shock of energy may even make your house shake. 

Other times, we see lightning but never hear thunder. But that doesn’t mean the thunder didn’t happen. Learn about the myth of heat lightning and some other neat sound science in this week’s Heather’s Weather Whys.

New episodes of Heather’s Weather Whys are posted to the WGRZ YouTube channel every Wednesday evening. 

If you have a weather question for Heather to answer, send it to her at heather.waldman@wgrz.com or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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