You’ve undoubtedly heard of the “flash to bang” method of estimating the distance of lightning where you:
- Count the number of seconds starting when you see the flash
- Stop counting when you hear the thunder
- Divide the number of seconds by 5 = distance of the lightning in miles
So, how well does it work in real life?
We have a great thunderstorm in progress in Sedgwick County (see postings below), so I decided to test it on one of the more distant strikes (I know it works close-in).
Here is the timing:
and, here is what the lightning measurement said, 12 miles. Given the fact there was likely a split second lag between the sound and me starting the timing, the flash-to-bang estimate of 11 miles is in very good agreement with the measured 12 miles.
I could clearly see with the naked eye a microburst with this part of the storm but it was too dark to photograph. Take a look at the TDWR, the strongest downburst of the evening!
|Click to enlarge image.|
The radar is measuring winds up to 60 mph!
It is well known that cloud-to-ground lightning is associated with downbursts and that is certainly the case tonight.