The sights and sounds of lightning and thunder are somewhat like a Fourth of July fireworks display. Like an elaborate theatrical production, they can be spectacular to watch and explosive to listen to. Since lightening could be life threatening, it should be viewed with caution, whenever possible under cover of shelter, for the sake of safety.
Lightning is in simple terms a flash of light in the sky caused by the discharge of atmospheric electricity from one cloud to another or between a cloud and earth. Lightning can strike the earth in the form of a single stroke, a bolt accompanied by the sound of thunder, with forks or branches from the main channel, or in the form of sheet lightning, a more common blanketlike illumination that tends to diffuse over the entire sky. Warm summer nights favor the occurrence of heat lightning and thunder, the sound that follows a flash of lightning caused by the sudden heating and expansion of air by electrical discharge.
Storm watchers can estimate the nearness of a storm by counting the seconds between the time the flash of lightning is sighted and the ear- shattering sound of a thunder roll. Every five-second difference indicates a distance of one mile. In as much as storms usually move at a speed 25 to 35 miles per hour, that is a time-needed rule-of-thumb to guide those seeking shelter.
Long before there was an accepted explanation for the causes of lightning and thunder, the folklore of every culture held a wide array of beliefs and reasons for this natural phenomenon. Early peoples concluded that it was an act of warning against evil by the deities. In the Orient it was the work of the dragons. In Old Testament times lightning struck fear in the hearts of the people, who justified it as a divine will. Christians thought it to be a sign of probable punishment for sin. Thun-