Thunder snow is a term often used in weather and it has the same meaning of a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm. When a cold front or warm front develops in a winter environment, then thunder snow can form. It is in the area located over the Great Lakes where many thunder snowstorms take place. This is due to the lake effect where cold air passes over warm air and mixes. It can produce snow squalls.
A regular thunderstorm can be heard for many miles, but the rumbling thunder from thunder snow can only be heard up to a three mile radius. The peak month for formations of thunder snow is March. Every year there are only about 6 thunder snow events. Sometimes these storms happen in ski areas and when they do the areas are evacuated. This is because thunder snow can produce a snowfall rate at 2 to 4 inches each hour.
Thunder snow can be found among strong and severe winter storms and blizzards. When thunder snow occurs, the winds are above tropical storm force. Thunder snow can produce quite a few hazards like visibility, wind chills and frostbite. Even in light wind conditions, thunder snow can limit visibility.
When a winter storm warning is issued then it is always possible that thunder snow will occur. There have been reports of green lightning in a thunder snow storm. This year on the East Coast a quick moving winter storm brought in with it thunder snow. A trail of warm weather and rain soon followed the icy beast.
During this type of winter weather, schools, government offices, and many other places close. Major roadways and interstates have reduced speed limits and some of them may also be closed. Major power outages also occur. From the Midwest to the East Coast it was a quick moving system that brought up to six inches of snow in some areas and 1.2 million power customers were without electricity. five deaths that ranged from Texas to Maine occurred during this winter storm.
Many of us know that a thunderstorm will produce rain, but with the right climate instead of rain you will get snow.
When there is thunder snow, you will not hear much thunder because the snow muffles the sound, but you can see plenty of lightning. Thunder snow is really common during lake effect snowstorms, but there have been reports in other places like Chicago where it is rare, but with the climate change thunder snow is beginning to become well known. When there is a very heavy rate of snow, then you can expect thunder snow. You may even experience a combination of rain, snow, freezing rain and thunder snow.
The meteorologists usually predict when thunder snow will occur and then they issue a sever winter storm warning so people can prepare and take safety measures. Even if it is rare in your area, it can still sometimes happen in the right weather conditions. If you are expecting thunder snow and are exciting about viewing it, then always be prepared to listen to the warnings from the National Weather Service.