Breakdown: Why thunder can be louder & longer in winter

Breakdown: Why Thunder can be louder & longer in the Winter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Thunderstorms that occur during cold seasons can be louder and last longer than those typical warmer weather storms. This is due to how sound travels in colder conditions and because of an inversion. An inversion is when a layer of warmer air is above a layer of cooler air near the surface. When this occurs, thunderstorms can develop in cooler temperatures because the layer of warmer air aloft provides enough energy for thunderstorm formation. These thunderstorms are often referred to as elevated thunderstorms.

This warmer layer also can influence the sound of thunder. Thunder in warmer weather generally dissipates in all directions. When the air is cold at the surface, the warmer air higher in the atmosphere traps the sound and then refracts it back toward the ground.

This refraction of the thunder can cause the sound to be more amplified. The sound of the thunder can also linger because sound waves move slower in colder air and faster in warmer air.

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