If you follow Wings, Worms, and Wonder on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen the question I posed last Thursday night regarding whether it can really thunder and lightning while snowing or if I was just going crazy. Well, luckily, it is real and I’m not starting to see flashing lights or hearing things! At first, I thought the lightning was people outside taking pictures and the thunder was a snowplow, but couldn’t see any people or plow evidence. I was so curious about this bizarre new snow thunderstorm nature experience, I did a little research to learn more. Now I feel really lucky to have experienced thundersnow- what National Geographic News deems “a rare and little-known phenomenon.”
“What Causes Thundersnow
Thundersnow starts out like a summer thunderstorm, Market said. The sun heats the ground and pushes masses of warm, moist air upward, creating unstable air columns.
As it rises, the moisture condenses to form clouds, which are jostled by internal turbulence. The “tricky part” for making thundersnow, Market said, is creating that atmospheric instability in the wintertime.
For thundersnow to occur, the air layer closer to the ground has to be warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow—a very precise circumstance.” [National Geographic News, link to full article below]
This makes sense in my case because it was really rainy and in the 40s the entire week before including that day. So it did start out like a rainstorm, turned to wintery mix and finally the thundersnow. Here is a little video of the thundersnow. You can see how hugely clumped the flakes were and how heavy and wet the snow was, but sorry I couldn’t catch any of the actual thundering and lightning.
I hope you get to experience this too at some point!
Seeds to Sprout:
Read the full National Geographic News article about last week’s thundersnow storm (Too bad they didn’t mention Richmond, VA, where I was, in the article.)- http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/090303-thunder-snow-storm.html
Thundersnow even caught the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore off guard! See and hear thundersnow here- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eQZMLdzUgU
Check out some 2011 NASA thundersnow findings here- http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/24feb_thundersnow/
Morning after the thundersnow hot tubbing at my sister’s house. You have to do something fun and outrageous when it’s a snow day morning- school was closed! I even ate a small box of fancy vegan chocolates in there!