Shop Windows to the Universe

Earth Science Rocks! Select one of our four cool NESTA t-shirts from our online store, and express your love of Earth and space science!
Lightning is visible through a silhouette of trees
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/Carlye Calvin

Thunder and Lightning

Lightning is the coolest thing about a thunderstorm. In fact, it is how thunderstorms got their name. Wait a minute, what does thunder have to do with lightning? Well, lightning causes thunder.

Lightning is a giant spark. It can heat the air around it to extremely hot temperatures! This makes the air expand. The expansion creates a booming sound wave, better known as thunder. This explains why it has the name thunderstorm.

Last modified May 27, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are one of the most exciting and dangerous types of weather. Over 40,000 thunderstorms happen around the world each day. Thunderstorms form when very warm, moist air rises into cold air....more

Types of Lightning

Lightning occurs during a thunderstorm. Most lightning takes place within a single cloud. Sometimes lightning moves from a cloud to the ground. Other times it jumps from one cloud to another or into the...more

Cumulonimbus

Cumulonimbus clouds belong to the Clouds with Vertical Growth group. They are also known as thunderstorm clouds. A cumulonimbus cloud can grow up to 10km high. At this height, high winds make the top...more

Examples of Advisories, Watches, and Warnings for Weather Events

Below is a list of different weather advisories, watches, and warnings. Severe Thunderstorm Watch: A severe thunderstorm watch is issued when a thunderstorm with strong winds and/or hail the size of a...more

Things You Probably Don't Know About Lightning

Lightning is very dangerous! About 100 people are killed each year by lightning. That's more than tornadoes or hurricanes! Here are some more neat facts about lightning. Most people that are hit by lightning...more

Wildfires are Burning in the Western United States

There are 19 large wildfires burning in the United States (as of June 13, 2002). Most of the fires are in the western part of the country. Some fires started when people were careless with fire. Some fires...more

Tonenili, Navajo God of Water

Tonenili is the Navaho God of Water.  He is also called the Water Sprinkler because he sprinkles water on people. He makes rain, sleet, and snow. He also makes thunder and lightning Tonenili is a very...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA