Kids Want To Know: What Causes Thunder?

GREENSBORO, NC -- Kids have all sorts of questions and today's kids want to know question brings us to the weather center. We've already seen several pop-up storms the last few weeks, and some have come with some pretty loud thunder and that's the subject of the question!

Anthony asked, "Hi, my name is Anthony and my question is how does thunder start?"

Many fables say thunder is caused by gods in the sky fighting, or expressing anger. But there's definitely some science to it! So WFMY News 2 meteorologist Tim Buckley explained.

"In order to get thunder you first need to have lightning. This is how lightning works, when you have a thunder storm cloud there are all sorts of charges that are build up within the cloud, positive charges and negative charges. Those are what create the electrical charges that comes out of the cloud and we see as a lightning bolt. Of course, lighting is extremely hot -- about ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit, that's about as hot as the surface of the sun. That heats the air right around the lighting bolt causes it to rapidly expand, then, as its cooling, it rapidly contracts again. This air is going to go back and forth between expansion and contraction, just going bigger and smaller, back and forth. That causes the air molecules to vibrate and that makes the sound that we hear which is in fact thunder. So whenever you hear thunder, there has to be lighting somewhere in your area and you need to head inside.

Remember, if your kid has a question, we want to hear it! Record your child asking the question and email it to


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