Lightning is dangerous, but what about thunder?
Other than the threat of the lightning itself, does thunder — especially very loud thunder — pose any threat to people near the lightning strike?
— Thelma Dora, Chicago
About 90 percent of the electrical energy of lightning is released as heat, 9 percent as light and 1 percent as sound, which we perceive as thunder. A very rapid increase in temperature and pressure immediately around a lightning bolt causes the surrounding air to expand as a shock wave faster than the speed of sound for the first 30 feet, after which it slows and becomes thunder.
The shock wave and thunder (at very close range to the lightning bolt) can cause property damage, but no injuries have been reported. Windows have been shattered by the concussion of thunder, and nail-supported drywall has popped away from wood studs in houses.
Other than the threat of the lightning itself, does thunder pose any threat to people near the lightning strike?