Have you ever noticed that some days you can hear that train or those church chimes that are miles away, while other days you don’t hear them at all? Ever hear the saying “Sound travels far and wide before a storm?” Here’s the reasoning behind this saying.
Although sound moves incredibly fast, it travels at different speeds through varying substances, such as solids, liquids, and air, it travels best through air, especially moist air, which carries sounds further than dry air.
Low, dense, rain clouds act as a barrier, causing sound waves to bounce back to earth and preventing them from escaping into the atmosphere above. This creates the illusion that everything is louder, and that noise travels further. This is why we seem to hear distant sounds, such as train whistles and ringing church bells, better as a storm approaches.
Sound can also travel farther on cold winter nights. During this time of year, a layer of cold air near the ground can get trapped by warm air above. This temperature inversion not only keeps the cold air down but also traps sound waves, keeping them close to the ground and allowing them to travel more horizontally and farther than normal.
Next time you hear those sounds from afar watch what the weather brings.