About 1:20am this morning a blinding flash and loudest thunder I ever heard sat me straight up in bed. These light shows are pretty rare around here and aren't to be missed, so we put on robes and toddled out onto the covered porch. Another great reason to have a pair of oak rockers!
How far away was the lightning? I remember counting as a kid, but wasn't sure how it translated. Guess we're never to old to learn something new. Here's the story from the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
"Lightning heats the air around it to as much as 60,000 degrees, producing sound waves by the quick expansion of the heated air. Since light travels at 186,000 miles per second, you see the lightning the instant it flashes. But sound, including thunder, travels about a mile in five seconds near the ground. If 15 seconds elapse between seeing a lightning bolt and hearing its thunder, the lightning was about three miles away".
Flashes were going off all around us. We saw no ground strikes, but close to 500 were reported. Of the 22 small fires discovered by morning, about half were in Sonoma County. Most of the activity to the north of us, around Healdsburg and Geyserville, was followed by basso profundo, the woofer is all the way up to stun, rumbles. Think about three F-15 jets taking off in the driveway next door.
The flashes overhead were followed by snappy, crisp rolls ~ a celestial bowling alley with all lanes in action. The front yard turned to daylight every 10-15 seconds. We came back inside about 2:30am when it started to quiet down, but we continued to hear rumblings until about 7am.
Check out the photos and blog by local Kent Porter from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. http://weather.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/14120/nocturnal-lightning/
We had watched a Weather Channel special on lightning earlier in the evening so this was Science In Action for us kids. Totally amazing!