All Weather News

What is Thundersnow?

11 Dec 2017, 10:57 am

Have you ever seen thunder while it was snowing? If you have, consider yourself lucky because you have witnessed a rather rare weather event.

So what is thundersnow and why is it an unusual occurrence?

Well, thundersnow is just like a normal thunderstorm but only with snow as the type of precipitation.

Now with your typical thunderstorm, the set-up is a strong, upward motion of warm, moist air. The warmer temperatures at the ground and the colder temperatures above, generate thunder and lightning. That’s the same set-up for thundersnow but it is just rare because the atmosphere is more stable in winter and not as much up and downdrafts.

Typically, thundersnow forms because of rapidly falling temperatures vertically in the atmosphere. Typically, it is found above a warm front where there is instability and abundant moisture.

Clouds are low in the winter so that upward vertical motion that is so typical in the warm sector of a summer thunderstorm isn’t common. Without the updrafts and downdrafts in convective systems, thunder and lightning are typical in the winter. Hearing thunder or seeing lightning in a thunderstorm is usually an indicator that you’re dealing with a strong winter storm or blizzard.

It may be a rare and intriguing phenomenon, but it is still important to follow the safety precautions you enlist during a spring or summer thunderstorm.

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