How to Calculate the Distance of Lightning

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How to Calculate the Distance of Lightning

 

 

Have you ever heard a really loud thunderstorm? They can be a lot of fun, but some times pretty scary. If you’ve ever wondered how far away the storm is from your location, there’s a way to calculate the distance of the lightning from where you’re standing!

 

 

 

Here’s how it works:

It’s difficult to determine how far away a lightning bolt is by simply looking at it. Next time you hear a really loud thunderclap, look into the sky and see if you can see lightning in the distance. Then:

1) See the lighting;

2) Count the number of seconds until you hear thunder – the best way is to count “Mississippis”. Example, “one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi, etc”.

3) Divide the number of seconds by 3 to determine how many kilometres away the lightning is (divide by 5 if you’d like to know the distance in miles). For example, if you counted 6 seconds then you’d divide that number by 3, and you’ll determine that the lightning is 2 kilometres away!

The delay between when you see lightning and when you hear thunder occurs because sound travels much, much more slowly than light. Sound travels through air at about 330-350 meters per second, which is a little more than one kilometre per three seconds. In comparison, the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second.

This is a fun way to impress your friends with some interesting meteorological fun! Just remember, if you’re ever in a thunderstorm DO NOT stand under a tree, it’s very dangerous!

Have fun calculating the next big storm!

 

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