Lightning bolts are extremely hot, with temperatures of 30,000 to 50,000 degrees F. That's hotter than the surface of the sun! When the bolt suddenly heats the air around it to such an extreme, the air instantly expands, sending out a vibration or shock wave we hear as an explosion of sound. This is thunder. If you are near the stroke of lightning you’ll hear thunder as one sharp crack. When lightning is far away, thunder sounds more like a low rumble as the sound waves reflect and echo off hillsides, buildings and trees. Depending on wind direction and temperature, you may hear thunder for up to fifteen or twenty miles.
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