Why Do We See Lightning Before We Hear Thunder?

Lightning reaches our eyes before thunder reaches our ears because light travels faster than sound.

lightning and thunder

Light travels at the rate of 186,282 miles per second, while sound is much slower, 1,087 feet, or about 1/5 of a mile, per second.

You can tell how far away a storm is by counting the seconds between the lightning flash and the clap of thunder, every 5 seconds between the two equals one mile!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

5 thoughts on “Why Do We See Lightning Before We Hear Thunder?”

  1. i think thunder is the result when lightning strikes, it distorts the air making huge sound waves thus resulting in thunder. the stronger and nearer the lightning the louder the thunder

  2. “really and truly” they happen at the same time. Lightning is 5x hotter than the surface of the sun. This causes the air around it to expand and contract. The result is what we hear as thunder. Light is the fastest known thing in the universe.

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