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The weather can affect the way sound travels through the air. Some of the ways we notice this include:
* Cars on a highway near your home sometimes seem louder and closer after dark some nights.
* Readers of military history learn of incidents such as at the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg General Meade was unable to hear the fighting in Taneytown, which was only 12 miles away, yet People in Pittsburgh, 150 miles away, heard the battle.
He notes that sound travels faster in warm air because the air is less dense. One result of this is that sound waves are bent when they travel from cold air into warm air.
The thunder we don't hear is caused by the opposite of an inversion; the air near the ground is warm with cold air aloft, Gedzelman says. The sound of the thunder is bent upwards, away from us. This is why we normally can't hear thunder that's more than about 10 miles away.