We can all tell when there's a thunderstorm outside as soon as we hear the loud clap of thunder, or if it's in the middle of the night the thunder startles us awake.

The way I was told to predict the next loud thunder boom was to keep an eye out for a lightning strike. Once you see that bright flash across the sky you know thunder isn't far behind.

But what causes the sound of thunder to be so loud it can shake a building?

According to loc.gov, the sound we hear is the result of rapid air expansion that had previously surrounded the lighting bolt.

"..Lightning takes so little time to go from point A to point B, the heated air has no time to expand. The heated air is compressed, raising the air from 10 to 100 times the normal atmospheric pressure...Like an explosion, the rapidly expanding waves of compressed air create a loud, booming burst of noise."

Case in point, this is a classic example of cause and effect. Because of the lighting strikes, we hear the thunder as a by-product of the lighting strike. Lighting is also charged with electricity and the difference in air temperature & atmospheric pressure in conjunction with the rapid air expansion.

These all play a factor in the big boom or low grumbles we hear outside during a thunderstorm.

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