What is thundersnow?

Weather

A person walks through downtown in the snow Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

(NewsNation) — A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.

Some areas experienced “thundersnow,” which is much like the name suggests: a storm that produces snow instead of rain.

Thundersnow is rare and is only seen in the strongest winter storms, such as nor’easters, intense blizzards and bomb cyclones.

The process for thundersnow is very similar to the process for the typical summertime thunderstorm; however, the top of the cumulonimbus cloud resulting in thundersnow is usually quite low. Moist air is lifted and rapidly rises due to instability in the atmosphere.

Lightning associated with thundersnow storms is less frequent than in rain storms, however, and is generally the cloud-to-cloud variety, as opposed to strikes that travel to the ground, CNN reported.

Just like a thunderstorm, sound is associated with thundersnow storms; however, it doesn’t have the same “boom” heard during a rain thunderstrom. “The heavy snowfall muffles the sound of the thunder, making it sound more like a low rumble than a loud, sharp bang,” CNN reported.

Several instances of thundersnow have occurred across the United States. In 2018, some regions of Texas and Oklahoma experienced thundersnow over Veterans Day, according to the National Weather Service.

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