“Thundersnow” …. the other hazard.

Sometimes it doesn’t take long for mother nature to remind us who’s in charge. As the blizzard bears down on the northeast, meteorologists from a cross the state are calling for periods of intense snow which may include thunder and lightning.

“Thundersnow”, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, is an unusual kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone. Thermodynamically, it is not different from any other type of thunderstorms but the top of the cumulonimbus is usually quite low. In addition to snow, graupel or hail falls.

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What causes “Thundersnow”? That happens when enough rising air causes a reaction. In other words extreme vertical motion (as in a summer thunderstorm in a cumulonimbus cloud) that will cause thunder and lighting. Usually when that occurs you will have very heavy snow upwards of 2-3in per hour. However this does not occur every time it snows only in very strong snow storms and blizzards with a deepening low pressure system. Lighting can, though rarely, in the winter strike the ground so it is possible to get struck in the winter.