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Ask Todd: Thundersnow

11:22 PM, Oct 30, 2012   |    comments
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A viewer asks: "Todd, what is thundersnow?"

Ok, let's talk about exactly what thundersnow is. Thundersnow, sometimes called a thunder snowstorm, is a kind of storm where snow falls at the primary precipitation, basically in the place of rain.

Thundersnow happened here in East Tennessee, back in the Blizzard of '93.

The same dynamics are in play as in a regular thunderstorm with rain. Air ascends rapidly in an updraft of a developing storm. This causes large droplets to gather, or in this case, large flakes to form.

The results are a heavy snowfall with big flakes and fast accumulating snow, all combined with a light snow from lightning and thunder. It's a snow-lover's dream!

And, to reference an earlier "Ask Todd" segment, lightning actually causes thunder, so the two go together: lightning first, then thunder.

So, in short, yes, you can have lightning and snow at the same time. It's a rare and special moment in weather. It's so rare in fact that most people, including meteorologists, only see it a few times in their lifetimes.

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