What is thundersnow?

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We’ve seen so many questions today regarding thundersnow and what it actually is.  Well here’s everything you need to know regarding what it is, how it happens and how it effects snowfall rates.

Thundersnow is a rare kind of thunderstorm where the primary type of precipitation is snow.  As compared to a spring thunderstorm, these’s colder storms have cumulonimbus clouds that are much lower. And instead of rain falling, it’s snow falling.   These clouds form in an area of upward motion in the cold sector of the storm.  You can often see flashes of lightning and hear the clap of thunder when thundersnow is happening. 

Our set up today is a synoptic scale system (low pressure system) and typically you’ll find thundersnow on the northwest side of the storm.  Central Indiana is definitely on the north side of the low pressure center and as it passes tonight we’ll be in that northwest section.  Thundersnow can also form in a TROWAL (trough of warm air aloft) environment.  There are also signs of this happening tonight.

 When you think about a strong spring-time thunderstorm, areas with the most intense thunder and lightning are often associated with the heaviest rainfall rates. This is also the case with thundersnow.  If this starts happening where you live, expect snowfall rates to intensify quickly.  With the snow storm headed our way, areas that get thundersnow should easily get 8″ of snowfall and locally higher amounts near 12″ of snow aren’t out of the question.  This is especially the case near the I-70 region tonight.


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