Breakdown: When thunder rolls, why the boom is louder at times

Breakdown: When thunder rolls, why the boom is louder at times

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thunder, is loud and powerful and it can make you jump right out of your skin. Lightning is the reason for thunder. A bolt of lightning can be up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit and it is five times hotter than the surface of the sun. It heats the air suddenly to as much as 18,000 degrees and the air next to the bolt explodes. The exploding or expanding and contracting of air creates the sound we know as thunder. Sometimes the boom of thunder can sound much louder than other times. In this breakdown we will explain why the rumbling and crackling of thunder can be louder.

The louder-than-normal thunder are common in Elevated Thunderstorms. These storms start to rise from the warm, muggy air above the ground. The typical surface based storms that we get in the summer, that may not be as loud, rise from the ground with the warm at the ground or surface.

In the more typical, surface based storms, sound waves dissipate in all directions. However, because of the temperature inversion air warming as you go up, in Elevated storms, the sound waves are trapped near the ground or get bent back toward earth or refracted. This trapping and refraction of sound can cause addition sound and amplify the sound of thunder, making it louder sounding. The trapping of the sound waves can allow the sound waves to bounce back and forth. This can also contribute to a louder boom and it can make the thunderous sound last longer too.

Elevated storms
Elevated storms (Source: Elevated storms)

In the more typical, surface based storms, sound waves dissipate in all directions. However, because of the temperature inversion air warming as you go up, in Elevated storms, the sound waves are trapped near the ground or get bent back toward earth or refracted. This trapping and refraction of sound can cause addition sound and amplify the sound of thunder, making it louder sounding. The trapping of the sound waves can allow the sound waves to bounce back and forth. This can also contribute to a louder boom and it can make the thunderous sound last longer too.

Inversion
Inversion (Source: Inversion)

These louder, elevated thunderstorms are most common in the winter as storms develop in warm air above a cooler air mass.

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