Did You Experience ‘Thundersnow’ During the Nor’easter?
All week long, we've been plugging the usual nor'easter weather impacts: Heavy snow, gusty winds, coastal flooding. But judging by social media, there's one phenomenon that clearly stole the spotlight on Wednesday...
(Along with some thundersleet and run-of-the-mill thunderstorms too.)
It's a real thing! And was indeed mentioned in Wednesday's stormy forecast.
The American Meteorological Society's Glossary of Meteorology defines thundersnow as: "A compound of the words 'thunder' and 'snow' used informally to describe an observation of snow at the surface that occurs with lightning and thunder... Thundersnow can be associated with increased snowfall rates leading to significant visibility reductions and localized areas of higher snow accumulation."
In other words, only the most powerful winter storms with the craziest snowfall rates can cause thundersnow. Usually we think of snow being a calm and gentle precipitation type. But when it's coming down at 3"/hour, crashing into ice pellets and raindrops on the way down through the atmosphere, those collisions are certainly enough to buildup the requisite electricity for thunder and lightning.
Wednesday's thundersnow in New Jersey was particularly remarkable because of how widespread and frequent it was. It just proves what a powerful, violent storm this nor'easter was!
This was only the second time in my life that I personally experienced thunder during a snowstorm! The first was while walking to class in college during a crazy lake-effect snowstorm — I clearly remember how surprising and loud it was! There isn't a meteorologist on the planet who doesn't totally "geek out" when they hear thundersnow.
So consider yourself lucky if you heard a few rumbles of magical thundersnow during this incredible snowstorm. BOOM!