Believe me when I tell you, it is not so much fun being drenched. Sure, it is wonderful when you are traipsing around on your roof or in your garden, getting wet in the rains. But out there in the wilderness, in the process of going from one place to the next, or in the process of cooking your meal, or maybe even building your shelter, rain is the last thing you want. But if you are out in the outdoors in the monsoons, chances are that you will not be able to avoid the rain unless you are very lucky. Rain is par for the course. When you see and hear lightning and thunder, you know you are in for rain ... and a drenching.
There are obvious advantages of rain ... it provides you with good, clean drinking water. It cools the environment. Everything looks cleaner after the dirt and grime has been washed away from the trees and leaves after the rains. When it is hot and the Sun has been beating down, you might wish for rain.
But do you how to predict when the rain is going to reach your location? Particularly when it looks imminent? How long do you have before you get drenched? Indeed, despite all the thunder and lightning, is the storm coming your way or going away from you?
Thunder and lightning provides the answer.
Light travels infinitely faster than sound. Light will reach you even before sound has gotten off the blocks, so to speak. Light travels at the speed of 29,97,92,458 meters per second. Compared to that, sound travels at 340.29 meters per second. So when you see lightening in the distance, you see the light almost instantly. To know how far it is comparative to your location, start counting seconds from the moment you see the lightening. If you hear the sound of the thunder a second after you see the light, the storm is 340.29 meters away ... virtually on top of you. If it takes three seconds for the sound of thunder to reach you, the storm is still about a kilometer away. If it take 12 seconds, it is four kilometers away. Simple.
How do you know if it is headed your way or not?
Count down the duration between the light and sound in intervals, say every minute or so. If the number of seconds between the thunder and the lightning is increasing, the storm is moving away from you. If it is decreasing, you better start taking cover.
Remember to count the seconds. To keep it simple, just remember that every three second interval equals a kilometer. 36 seconds for the sound of thunder to reach you after you see the lightening means that the storm is 12 kilometers away. The best scenario of course is when you do see the lightening but the sound of the thunder never reaches you ... the storm is too far away for you to be worried about in the immediate sense. Just keep a check to see that it is not headed your way.