CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Numerous thunderstorms this winter have renewed the questionable relationship between thunderstorms and snowy weather.
Numerous social media posts, and messages to Verify, inquired about an old wives' tale that promised snow ten days after thunderstorms in the winter months.
While there are other variants of this myth that change the duration between the storms and winter weather, the idea is the same.
Students at the Goddard School of Matthews asked, "Is it going to snow ten days after thunder in winter?"
- Frank Strait, the severe weather liaison for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
- National Weather Service observations as recorded at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the official weather observation station for Charlotte, NC
No, thunderstorms in the winter do not always bring snow.
What We Found
"I remember my grandmother... when we'd have a thunderstorm in winter, she'd say, 'Oh, It's gonna snow within 10 days,'" Frank Strait, the severe weather liaison for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, recalled to Verify.
Weather records suggest no correlation between the two weather patterns.
For example, weather observations in Charlotte, North Carolina, which are recorded by National Weather Service equipment at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, showed that for 72 occurrences of thunder, snow fell within 10 days only 8 times, according to records since 2011. That equates to just 11% of the time.
"When you get a thunderstorm in the wintertime, it's usually because of a big change in the weather pattern," Strait said.
In a scenario where warm air gives way to cold air, a strong line of thunderstorms can ride that cold front, which acts as the transition point in the atmosphere. While the cold air can make temperatures favorable for winter weather in the days that follow, it does not guarantee snow or moisture of any kind in those days that follow.
With snow falling only 11% of the time after thunder in the winter, the suggestion that the two weather patterns are linked is untrue.
VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.