Breakdown: Why thunder never happens without lightning

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - In an earlier Breakdown video, we told you about the process that causes lightning and how powerful a bolt is when it strikes the ground.

In this episode of the Breakdown, we will discuss thunder and answer the question of, can you have thunder without lightning?

First, a quick recap on lightning: a bolt of lightning is as hot as 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit--that is more than five times hotter than the surface of the sun!

The air around the bolt heats up rapidly and it creates a type of shockwave in the air. The hot air will then collapse instantly. That change from hot to cold will create the cracking sound, followed by rumbles as the column of air continues to vibrate.

Due to the speed of light traveling faster than the speed of sound, you will see lightning first, then a delay before you hear the thunder.

To answer the question, no, you cannot have thunder unless you see a bolt of lightning.

As the saying goes, when thunder roars, go indoors. In fact, if you are outside and hear thunder that means lightning is close.

Did you know you can even estimate the distance lightning is by counting how many seconds it takes to hear thunder? It is approximately five seconds for the sound to travel one mile. If you hear thunder immediately after you see lightning, then the lightning is way too close for comfort.

But what about those times you've seen lightning without hearing thunder? Spencer Denton explains.

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