It’s two days before January, and normally in this area we are freezing in sub 20 degree F weather or being buried in snow. However, it is about 40 degrees and there is very heavy rain with lightning.

This is a new phenomenon for me as in 27 years in this area, I can’t recall a winter thunderstorm. This is what I notice: even though the lightning is not necessarily close, the onset of thunder is a gradual increase followed by a loud boom that shakes the house. In my experience, thunder has always been a rumble, or extremely loud if it’s close by. Does thunder have these characteristics because of the cold air being denser? I’m a physicist by degree, but I would like to get a meteorological perspective on this, and know more about this apparent phenomenon (also why is the weather like this on December 30 in NJ). Thanks!

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