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Why You Should Count Between Thunder and Lightning

Summer is the prime time for thunderstorms.  Often occurring in the afternoon or evening hours, they are so commonplace we tend to forget how dangerous they can be.  From lightning strikes to power outages, thunderstorms are not something we should play around with.

What is Thunder?

The sound of thunder is actually the sound of lightning.  When lightning strikes, it heats up the surrounding air incredibly quickly and to extremely high temperatures.  Afterward, that air cools down and contracts quickly, which causes that loud thunder boom.

How to Learn How Far Away Lightning Is

How many of you have ever counted seconds or “Mississippis” in between seeing lightning flash and hearing thunder?  We see lightning first because light travels faster than sound.  It takes approximately 5 seconds for the sound of thunder to travel a mile.  So, when you count the number of seconds between seeing a crack of lightning and hearing the thunder, divide that number by 5 and that is how many miles away the lightning was when it struck.

Storm Distance Safety Tips

While this is a fun activity to do during a storm, it also serves a practical purpose as well.  The National Weather Service points out, “thunder… can be heard for a distance of only about 10 miles from the lightning strike. The sound of thunder should serve as a warning to anyone outside that they are within striking distance of the storm and need to get to a safe place immediately!”

The CDC tells us, “when thunder roars, go indoors.”  They also advise following the 30-30 rule, which means if less than 30 seconds passes after lightning strikes before hearing thunder, you should take shelter.  You should also wait at least 30 minutes after hearing thunder before resuming any outdoor activities.

Once you do head back outside, remember to stay clear of any downed power lines you see.

We are hear to help you with all of your residential electrical services, and that includes staying safe in your home during a thunderstorm.  For more information, contact us at FLAME Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical!

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