We've all heard of thunder, and we all know what it is. Many of us have heard of two different types of thunder, but we may never have noticed or thought about it. I just heard a third lightning strike.
The "usual" thunder – a very special sound, but the most frequently occurring thunder happens when lightning strikes at some distance from the observer. The initial tone of the lightning strike echoes the surrounding objects and the air mass. Since it often echoes, the thunder will last for many seconds, though the initial sound lasts for up to two or two seconds. In addition, since the initial sound echoes soft things with cloudy surfaces – clouds, thermocons, and weather faces – and as a lot of echoes reach the observer's ear at different times, the original sound is very distorted. Almost all high frequency components are filtered and the observer usually hear low tones.
When the lightning is very close to the observer, within a few hundred meters the sound is completely different. The observer does not hear the echo of thunder at all, only the pure initial sound. One, sharp, intense "POW!" This can be followed by a much quieter, but still loud, whistling or hissing sound.
But what about the third lightning?
I was alone at Crawford Notch State Park in northern New Hampshire when the thunderstorms started rolling into the valley after dinner. Before the rain started, I set up my camp, then retreated to my tent. A storm went through many incidents.
Darkness dropped when the second storm went down. I was involved in calculating the time interval between lightning and thunder to track the storm movement. Fifteen seconds before the thunder somewhere to the west of the Bemis Mountains and I knew the storm was only three miles southwest of me. Twenty seconds after the flash and the Frankenstein Cliff, and I knew the storm was about a mile and a half to the west. I expected eleven seconds. And I heard the sound, unlike the thunder I've ever heard. The saxophone contained at least half a dozen quick repetitions of "POW". a nearby lightning strike. But at the same time, the "usual" thunder began to rattle, but much, much louder than usual. Before I could find out what this sound was, another flash turned to somewhere north. Again I counted eleven seconds, and I heard again this incredible helplessness, teasing, whistling, and shouting.
This time I guessed that Crawford Notch's upper section had a lightning strike just a few miles north. It was truly a giant stone megaphone formed by Webster Cliff in the east, Mount Field and Willey Hill in the west, and Mount Willard's old glacial circus northward.
And this 1500 foot deep, three-millimeter long granite megaphone on Dry River Campground pointed to it.
Yes, the beautiful U-shaped icy valley of Crawford Notch is almost a perfect loudspeaker, though it is open on top. Mount Willard and Webster Cliff's bare stone surfaces echoed the initial "POW!" the thunder is almost distorted. The western slope of the perimeter is a slightly stronger forest, but there are enough bare lofts and cliffs there to provide a very good echo. The open top of the opening was due to the thunderstorm itself, which provided a soft, echoing surface for the pure "POW!" Along with the usual roar of thunder. echoing on rock surfaces
But this sound was extremely loud because of the loudspeaker that focused everything on me and my campsite. After all this I figured out, a third lightning flickered north. Yes, eleven seconds later, there was that glorious, extraterrestrial voice.
Why did not I ever hear this thunder. Over the years, it has probably been at least a dozen times the Crawford Notch thunderstorms, but I have never heard Thunder Megaphone. In my opinion, I've probably heard about it before, but I never noticed. Most of the times I camped there, with friends and family. Much happens when the storm starts. Ponchos need to be broken and dismantled, while at the same time, various things that are cluttering must be seized in cars and tents before being soaked. There is some shouting and shouting, and paradoxically, there must be a serious physical injury between kids and dogs to reassure their fears. Meanwhile, the tents and the picnic table dotted the reefs while the thunder mimicked.
In my 25-year-old Crawford Notch campsite, this might be the first time a storm was camping alone. There was no canopy above the tent, and they were waiting for the thunderstorm to get everything in the car long before the rain started.
So when lightning and thunder came, there was nothing to do, just to observe. ] What a treat!
I'm halfway hoping that there will be a storm next time we go to Thunder Megaphone's mouth.
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