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sound produced along a path of a lightning flash, caused by the rapid heating and expansion of the adjacent air; lightning can heat air to temperatures as much as five times hotter than those at the surface of the sun. Rolling thunder occurs either as a result of the time difference between sounds from the far and near end of a flash, or when mountains, layers of air, or other obstructions cause reverberations. Since sound travels about 1 mi in 5 sec, the distance between a lightning flash and an observer may be determined by counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder. Thunder as far distant as 10 to 15 mi (15 to 25 km) from an observer is usually not heard, even though lightning is often seen. See thunderstormthunderstorm,
violent, local atmospheric disturbance accompanied by lightning, thunder, and heavy rain, often by strong gusts of wind, and sometimes by hail. The typical thunderstorm caused by convection occurs when the sun's warmth has heated a large body of moist air near the
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about thunder?

Thunder may indicate a loud knocking at the door of the dreamer’s conscious mind to force the dreamer to pay attention and to learn. If accompanied by lightning bolts, inspiration and enlightenment may be indicated.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


The sound emitted by rapidly expanding gases along the channel of a lightning discharge.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


The loud rumbling caused by lightning. The lightning creates a large amount of heat, which causes air to expand rapidly and violently. These expansion waves travel at supersonic speeds and are heard as thunder.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


See also Lightning.
epithet of Dionysus, meaning ‘thunder.’ [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 43]
cruel Cyclops who controls the weather; able to cause great thunder. [Gk. Myth.: Parrinder, 47; Jobes, 241, 400]
god of thunder; corresponds to Thor. [Ger. Myth.: Leach, 321]
thunder god and controller of weather. [Vedic Myth.: Leach, 521]
Thor’s hammer. [Norse Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1076]
god of thunder. [Norse Myth.: Leach, 1109]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a loud cracking or deep rumbling noise caused by the rapid expansion of atmospheric gases which are suddenly heated by lightning
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
As the sound kept resounding in her ears, a strong clap of thunder broke the silence of the house into a terrible scream and a call of helplessness echoed throughout the whole neighborhood.
The court should watch out for unexplained signs, such as a clap of thunder or a plague of frogs
There was a mighty clap of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning over Saskatoon on March 31 when the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation flew into town on the wings of a thunderbird to host its 12th annual achievement awards gala.
'I thought it was a clap of thunder but it was obviously the explosion of the engine.
It was so long it forked four times, and the clap of thunder that immediately followed completely unnerved me.
butterfly that flitters past you, and the loud clap of thunder that
Your written guidelines should spell out specifically the circumstances that result in horseback activities being canceled and when they could safely resume (twenty minutes after a clap of thunder, for example).
A blue flash of lightning that will bring in its wake another clap of thunder illuminates the patio.
A clap of thunder accompanies every mention of the dreaded Moriarty, a criminal mastermind and Holmes' arch nemesis.
Noah, a six-year-old border collie, hasn't been seen since he fled in panic after a freak clap of thunder. In her desperation to find her beloved pet, Barbara, 55, is prepared to go to any lengths.
In 1988, he was wakened by what sounded like a clap of thunder overhead.