Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Thunder and Lightning

Thunder vs Lightning

The Earth experiences several types of weather. Some can cause only mild discomfort and trouble while others can cause a lot of destruction and loss. The weather can sometimes be hot, dry, clear, and calm while at other times it can be cold, wet, cloudy, and stormy.

Storms are very common. They happen when there is a disturbance in the Earth’s atmosphere. This disturbance can be mild and appear in a small, low pressure area as a small cyclone but can turn into a huge storm with severe weather conditions. It is characterized by strong winds such as in hurricanes and windstorms, heavy rain or snow such as in snowstorms and rainstorms, blizzard, hail, sandstorms, and thunderstorms which are marked by the occurrence of thunder and lightning.

A thunderstorm occurs when there is a raid upward movement of warm, moist air. As it moves upward, it loses heat and cools then compresses and form cumulonimbus clouds where air currents form water droplets and ice particles which collide with each other and build up static energy which causes thunder and lighting.

Lightning is that sudden flash of electricity in the sky which can either be straight or forked. It is very hot, reaching a temperature of up to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It can travel at a speed of up to 140,000 miles per hour.

Lightning strikes tall objects because it always takes the fastest way to the ground. If it is forked, the leader bolt goes down towards the ground then a return stroke snaps back up on the path created by the leader bolt.

When air around the electric bolt expands, it produces sound energy which is called thunder. While thunder and lightning usually occur at the same time, light travels faster than sound so lightning is seen before thunder can be heard.

Thunder is the rumbling sound that is heard during thunderstorms. It is caused by the fast expansion of gases in the electrical charge of lightning in a thunderstorm. The sound of thunder can range from a low rumble to a crack, a clap, or a peal.

The word “thunder” comes from the Old English word “thunor” and the Proto-Germanic “thunraz” which means “to resound.” The word “lightning” comes from the Old English word “lihting” or “lightnen” which means “make bright.”


1. Lightning is an electrical energy while thunder is a sound energy.
2. Both occur at the same time during a thunderstorm, but since light travels faster than sound, lightning is seen first before one can hear the sound of thunder.
3. Lightning is fast and very hot while thunder can usher in heavy rain and strong winds, but lightning is more dangerous and destructive than thunder.
4. Lightning is formed when water and ice particles collide with warm, moist air and build up static energy while thunder is formed by the fast expansion of gases in the electrical charge of lightning.
The word “thunder” comes from the Old English word “thunor” and the Proto-Germanic “thunraz” while the word “lightning” comes from the Old English word “lihting” or “lightnen.”

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  1. This was very helpful

  2. Will you tell me, why Thor is called “God of Thunder” despite the fact that he produces Lightning…

    • Haha that’s funny I am watching Ragnarok right now and was wondering the same thing …u don’t think sparkles fits him haha I want to know y also

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