Difference Between Thunder and Lightning

Main Difference

The main difference between thunder and lightning is that thunder is the sound produced by lightning, whereas lightning is an electrical discharge produced by the clash of electrically charged clouds.

Thunder vs. Lightning

Earth experiences different types of weather. Some of them cause only mild trouble, while others cause a lot of destruction and loss. It can be hot, clear, dry, and calm at one time but may be cold, wet, cloudy, and stormy on the other time. A rapid upward movement of the warm and moist air causes a thunderstorm. As the warm air moves upward, it loses heat and cools down to compress in the form of clouds. The water droplets and ice particles in the clouds, collide with each other due to air and build up static energy, which causes thunder and lighting. Thunder is sound energy produced by electric discharge during lightning. Both thunder and lightning take place at the same time, but as light has more speed, so, it appears first and than we hear the sound of thunder. Lightning is fast and very hot and is more destructive and dangerous than thunder. Thunder is scary, but it has little potential to cause damage, on the other side, lightning is lethal and can cause house on fire.

Comparison Chart

ThunderLightning
The sound produced by lightning is known as thunder.The electrical discharge formed by the clash of electrically charged clouds is known as lightning.
Etymology
The word “thunder” is derived from the old English word “thunor” and the Proto-Germanic “thunraz.”The word “lightning” is derived from the Old English word “lihting” or “lightnen.”
Type of Energy
Thunder is sound energy.Lightning is electrical energy.
Production
Thunder is formed due to the fast expansion of gases during the electrical charge of lightning.Lightning is produced when ice and water particles collide with moist and warm air.
Quality
Thunder is the effect.Lightning is a cause.
Time of Occurrence
As sound energy has low speed so, it can be heard after lightning.As light energy has more speed, so it can be seen first before thunder.
Characteristics
Thunder usher in strong winds and heavy rains, and it is less destructive and dangerous than lightning.Lightning is very hot and fast and is very destructive and dangerous.
Damage
Thunder is less damaging. It can rarely cause damage to hearing if lightning struck nearby.It is more destructive and may cause a house on fire.

What is Thunder?

The word “thunder” is derived from the old English word “thunor” and the Proto-Germanic “thunraz.” It is the rumbling sound that can be heard during thunderstorms. It is produced by the fast expansion of the gases in the electrical charge of lightning during thunderstorm. Its sound can range from a low rumble to a crack, a peal or a clap. Both thunder and lightning take place at the same time but, as the light has more speed than the sound so, lightning is seen before the sound can be heard. Thunder usher in strong winds and heavy rains, and it is less destructive and dangerous than lightning. Thunder is scary, but it has little potential to cause damage. In rare cases, it can damage the hearing if the clap of thunder is at its loudest and sharpest.

What is Lightning?

The word “lightning” is derived from the Old English word “lihting” or “lightnen.” It is an awesome force of nature. Lightning is usually produced by the electrically charged parts of the clouds. If two electrically charged clouds come into direct contact with each other, lightning is produced. If this lightning produced hits the ground than it is called as “strike.” On the other side, if the lightning is among the clouds, it is called “flash.” In rare cases, volcanic eruptions have also recorded causing lightning storms. But mostly, it is due to electrically charged regions of clouds. Its surface is hotter than the sun, reaching a temperature of 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It can travel with a speed of about 140,000 miles per hour. Lightning may strike tall objects because it always takes the fastest way towards the ground. It is very destructive and dangerous and may cause a house on fire. The potential of lightning to cause damage is unpredictable because it is difficult to determine whether it will make contact with the ground or not. It is relatively short-lived, so it can only damage the objects that are in direct contact with it.

Key Differences

  1. The sound produced by lightning is known as thunder, whereas the electrical discharge produced by the clash of electrically charged clouds is known as lightning.
  2. The word “thunder” is derived from the old English word “thunor” and the Proto-Germanic “thunraz” on the other hand, the word “lightning” is derived from the Old English word “lihting” or “lightnen.”
  3. Thunder is sound energy. Conversely, lightning is electrical energy.
  4. Thunder is formed due to the fast expansion of gases during the electrical charge of lightning on the flip side; lightning is produced when ice and water particles collide with moist and warm air.
  5. Lightning is the cause, while thunder is its effect.
  6. As sound energy has low speed so, thunder can be heard after lightning, on the other side, as light energy has more speed so that lightning can be seen first before thunder.
  7. Thunder usher in strong winds and heavy rains, and it is less destructive and dangerous than lightning; on the other hand, lightning is very hot and fast, so it is very destructive and dangerous.
  8. Thunder is less damaging; It can rarely cause damage to hearing if lightning struck nearby on the other side, lightning is more destructive and may cause a house on fire.

Comparison Video

YouTube video

Conclusion

Above discussion clarifies that thunder is sound energy that is produced by lightning and has less destructive effect whereas, lightning is the electrical energy produced by the contact of differentially charged clouds and is very destructive and dangerous.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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