Brontophonic sounds can give lightning a unique hiss, separate from the deep rumble of thunder

What does lightning sound like? The obvious answer is in the boom of thunder: an explosion of expanding, superheated air. But there are more subtle and less understood noises associated with lightning, known as brontophonic sounds, which are heard far less frequently.

Two features make these sounds distinguishable from thunder. One is that in contrast to the deep reverberation of thunder, brontophonic sounds sound like the hissing of a red-hot iron in water or the tearing of fabric.

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