Ask Josh: Thundersnow!

It's a rare and fascinating weather phenomenon and many saw and heard it Friday night. Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick explains how it happens.

Was that lightning and thunder with the snow?  That was a common question I got on my Facebook page Friday night as an intense snow squall raced across the region late Friday evening.

The answer is yes!  You saw lightning and heard thunder.  We call it thundersnow. 

Here's our Doppler Radar just after 11:30 pm Friday night.  Notice the dark blue.  That's where it was snowing at the rate of 2" inches per hour.

   

In that dark blue area the air was rising just like in a thunderstorm.  Had it been warm enough for rain, the radar would show orange and red like with a typical thunderstorm.

Basically thundersnow is just a thunderstorm but instead of heavy rain you get very heavy snow.

Typically only the strongest of snowstorms produce it.  But as we saw, snow squalls can as well.

Thundersnow is a rare weather phenomenon.  I've only experienced it twice.  The first time I heard it was during the great blizzard of 1993.  It was that event which got me hooked on meteorology.  The second time I've ever heard it was during the blizzard of 1996.

The link below is a clip of a heavy snow burst in Kansas which produced a loud rumble of thunder.

www.youtube.com/watch

Did you experience the thundersnow or have you ever?  Post your comments below.

Join my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Josh-Fitzpatrick-fan-page/362878134573

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/weatherjoshfitz

Keep those great questions coming!

 

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