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Thunder Snow: Rare 'thundersnow' coming, storm depends on weather conditions

Thunder and snow together come off as a fearful weather combination, and a very rare “thundersnow” may indeed be hitting certain regions of the U.S. this Thursday, depending on local weather conditions. While a number of areas in the Midwest enjoyed a surprisingly warm day today, news of more snowfall and bad weather may be on the horizon. Fox Twin Cities reports this Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, that it’s very possible a thunderstorm may hit while heavy snowfall — instead of the usual rain — is coming down later in the week.

Thundersnow possible this week, depending on the weather
Twitter Photo, StickyEgg News

Called an intimidating sounding “thundersnow,” this rare weather occurrence is just that: a combination of a thunderstorm and snowfall. Oftentimes, the track of a powerful storm is equally as important as the amount of precipitation that comes along with it. And instead of just cold rain, another inch of snow or more may be on the way for certain U.S. Midwest residents.

As early as this Thursday morning, an intense storm is expected to be passing through regions of the nation, including certain parts of Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Some snow and sleet conditions are anticipated; however, based on specific dynamics of the weather system, convection may be produced. Simply put, this convection may be lightning and thunder, leading to a veritable “thundersnow.”

Basically, this winter weather combination of thunder and snow is the name given to a snowstorm that brings with it not just freezing rain, but literal snow. Such a phenomenon is cited as a very rare occurrence in the winter, due to the fact that cold air is needed at the surface to create snow, but the above air must be warm to sustain enough lift so that convection (lightning) may ultimately be produced.

When these specific conditions are met, thunder snow can come as a result during a regular winter storm. It seems that the warm weather experienced (and no doubt much appreciated) by many people in the U.S. Midwest today is contributing to the potential thundersnow on the horizon.

Now, due to the fact that snow can often blanket or muffle the sounds of thunder in the storm, it’s likely that only residents within a relatively close three miles of the lightning strike will actually hear the powerful crackling noises. So this Thursday, have your ears and your eyes keep a lookout for the potential for more snowfall and a potential “thundersnow.”