CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We’ve heard the mention of thundersnow a few times this winter.
Michael Tucker wrote in on my Facebook page and asked, “What is it?”
The “what” is thunder occurring during a snowstorm. Let’s consider the “why.”
First, you need moist air rising into the troposphere to produce thunderstorms. Second, you need moist air rising into the troposphere producing thunderstorms, or elevated convection, in temperatures that are cold enough to support snowflakes. These weather scenarios are rare.
On average, there are less than a dozen recorded thundersnow events per year across the United States. The actual sound of the thunder in a snowstorm doesn’t travel as far.
Snow tends to muffle sound, so it might only be audible two to three miles away. Like regular thunderstorms, high winds and heavy bursts of snow may also be recorded. Rapid accumulation from two to four inches per hour or more is possible.