I am sure we have all been told at one point in our lives that you can measure how far away a lightning strike is by counting the number of seconds between the strike and the sound of thunder. I have always been taught that the rule of thumb for a strike distance was for every second between the strike of lightning to the sound of thunder is how many miles away the strike actually was. While this might seem like a good rule of measure, that is not necessarily true.

Measuring Lightning by Sound in Colorado

Early spring and summer months in Colorado are the most common storms that produce lightning. These thunderstorms can pop up quickly and pass through any town just as fast. On average, lightning strikes in Colorado are approximately numbered to be 500,000 per year.


Since light travels faster than sound, you will see the lightning strike well before you hear the thunder from the strike. Counting is the best way to gauge how far the lightning is away. According to the National Weather Service, you can start counting each second between the strike and the thunder, then divide by five.

Power 102.9 NoCo - KARS-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

This means when you see lightning, count to 25, and hear thunder, the lightning strike is five miles away.  Also, if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of the storm and should move indoors to safety.

Distance Creates Different Sounds of Thunder

Easily my favorite sound of thunder is the rolling rumble. This type of thunder is produced by a few miles away lightning. The sharp cracking thunder is produced by lighting close to you and will nearly always make you jump due to the loud sound. See more on lighting and thunder by visiting the National Weather Service at weather.gov.


You Can't Own Any of These Dangerous Weapons in Colorado

What weapons are considered "dangerous" and "illegal" in Colorado? Scroll on for a look at some of the illegal and forbidden weapons in the state of Colorado.

16 of the Most Dangerous Roads in Colorado

Some have rugged terrain, some are known for having a lot of accidents, but these are all 16 of the most dangerous roads in Colorado.

Gallery Credit: Nate Wilde