ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Think you’re a weather buff who knows their stuff? See if you can correctly guess this WFXR Weather Trivia question!
Which of these weather phenomena is caused by rapidly expanding air?
When molecules in the air are heated, they start to move faster and shift further apart from each other. In other words, air expands when heated and contracts when cooled.
Lightning can heat air rapidly and causes it to expand. The National Weather Service (NWS) says the air temperature near a lightning channel may reach as high as 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit; that’s about five times hotter than the surface of the sun!
Shortly after the lightning flash, the air quickly cools and contracts. The rapid expansion and contraction of the air produces a noise we know as thunder.
According to the NWS, thunder can be heard for a distance of about 10 miles from a lightning strike.