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Author Topic: Do all thunderstorms have lightning?  (Read 5119 times)

Offline thedoc

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Do all thunderstorms have lightning?
« on: 15/08/2012 12:20:04 »
Do all thunderstorms have lightning?
Asked by Ralph in Stanford


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« Last Edit: 15/08/2012 12:20:04 by _system »


 

Offline thedoc

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Do all thunderstorms have lightning?
« Reply #1 on: 15/08/2012 12:20:04 »
We answered this question on the show...



Chris -   I think that actually, if you're going to have a thunderstorm, that means by definition you're hearing thunder.  So if you're hearing thunder, you're hearing a shockwave, and what's happened during a thunderstorm to make that shockwave is that something has heated a patch of the air to a very high temperature.  This has made the air expand supersonically, making a shockwave that then comes towards you through the air as a rippling roll of thunder.  You can't really have the heating of the air without some kind of an electrical discharge which is what the lightning is.

In fact, I think when people have done calculations and measurements, a lightning bolt actually registers a temperature of about 30,000 degrees C which is 5 or 6 times hotter than the surface of the Sun.  So I donít think you can have a thunderstorm without a lightning bolt because you wouldnít hear any thunder because something, some discharge has got to actually drive that happening in the first place.  I think itís probably just that the lightning is masked behind a layer of cloud or something and you just donít see it.


Click to visit the show page for the podcast in which this question is answered. Alternatively, listen to the answer now or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 15/08/2012 15:54:24 by BenV »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Do all thunderstorms have lightning?
« Reply #2 on: 15/08/2012 22:16:32 »
The sound of thunder travels for quite some distance, so you may not see the lightening from your vantage point.

There is also cloud-to-cloud or inter-cloud lightening that would not have the distinctive bolts travelling to the ground.  Perhaps it would be more hidden.

Of course, sonic booms from supersonic aircraft can also sound like thunder without the lightening.
 

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Re: Do all thunderstorms have lightning?
« Reply #2 on: 15/08/2012 22:16:32 »

 

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