Characteristics of world weather and climate
Lightning strikes the surface of our planet about 100 times every second. Each flash of lightning contains over one billion volts – enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb continually for three months.
A lightning flash can happen in half a second. In that instant, the lightning flash superheats the surrounding air to a temperature five times hotter than that on the surface of the sun. Nearby air expands and vibrates, forming sound that we hear as thunder, but as sound travels more slowly than light, it seems as though the thunder occurs after the lightning strike.
Lightning is one of the most deadly natural occurrences known to man, creating temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun and shockwaves beaming out in all directions. Massive trees and buildings can be completely destroyed by a single lightning bolt.
Thunder is caused by the tremendous heat connected with the lightning flash. In less than a second, the air is heated to 15,000 to 60,000 dergrees fahrenheit. When the air is heated to this temperature quickly, it rapidly expands. When lightning strikes very close by, the sound will be a loud bang or snap. The duration of the thunder associated with a nearby lightning strike will be very short. Lightning which strikes farther away will rumble for a longer period of time as the sound arrives at different times due to the length of the lightning flash. Thunder can typically be heard up to 10 miles away.