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Why does the thunder from lighting last much longer than the flash?

by cantgetaname
Tags: flash, lighting, thunder
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cantgetaname
#1
Jun18-14, 09:46 AM
P: 36
I was walking home today when I noticed that the flash from a lighting takes a fraction of a second while the sound lasts a good 5-6 seconds.
I couldn't think of an explanation for this, except a wild guess that maybe the source of sound is a line source and sound from different points on the lightning bolt takes different times to reach the observer.
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olivermsun
#2
Jun18-14, 09:58 AM
P: 853
That's most of the answer. Lightning bolts can be miles long. Sound in air needs several seconds to travel a miles-longer path. Another answer depending on your surroundings is the presence of echoes, which create additional paths.
rcgldr
#3
Jun18-14, 12:17 PM
HW Helper
P: 7,176
Here is a video of an unusual (for southern California) thunderstorm. There are a few instances where you see the flash and hear the thunder. At this particular location, echoes from nearby hills add to the sound.



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