Difference Between Thunder And Lightning


What Is Lightning?

Lightning is an electrical discharge that occurs within a cloud, between clouds, from clouds to the ground and even from the cloud top into the surrounding atmosphere. Within a developing thunder cloud (cumulonimbus), there are millions of tiny ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets rubbing up against each other as they move up and down. This causes a positive charge to develop at the top of the cloud and a negative charge at the bottom. If this build-up of charge grows large enough, a discharge can occur—lightning.

The three main kinds of lightning are distinguished by where they occur: either inside a single thundercloud, between two different clouds or between a cloud and the ground. Many other observational variants are recognized, including “heat lightning”, which can be seen from a great distance but not heard; dry lightning, which can cause forest fires; and ball lightning, which is rarely observed scientifically.

What is Thunder?

Thunder is the sound produced by rapidly expanding and contracting pockets of air associated with lightning. Thunder can usually be heard up to 15 km from the lightning, but under optimum conditions, such as on a still night, it can sometimes be heard as far away as 25 km. Depending upon the distance from and nature of the lightning, it can range from a long, low rumble to a sudden, loud crack. 

If you are very close to the place where lightning hits the ground, the thunder you hear might sound like a deafening bang. Sometimes you will hear a crackling sound, like the sky is splitting in two. This is the sound the air makes when it is cooling and shrinking. Thunder also sometimes sounds like a low grumble, tumbling through the sky. This is caused when the air continues to shake and shudder from the lightning bolt.

Also Read: Difference Between Weather And Climate

Thunder vs Lightning

DescriptionThunder is the sound caused by a nearby flash of lightning.Lightning is the visible discharge of electricity causing very bright flashes of light in the sky and often, when striking the ground causing severe damage to persons and property.
CauseThunder sound is produced by rapidly expanding and contracting pockets of air in the atmosphere associated with lightening.Produced as a result of electrical activity in the atmosphere.
OccurrenceSound of thunder is heard after the light because it has a slower speed than that of light.The flash of light from lightening is seen first than the thunder (sound).
EffectThunder is only scary but does not cause any damage.Lightning can be very destructive. It can damage persons, building, trees etc.

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