(WXYZ) - It’s not every day that we use the word “blizzard.” It’s even more rare to hear meteorologists use the term “thundersnow.” They’re using it and that had us asking: Just what is thundersnow?
Doppler 7 meteorologist Chris Edwards says that while thundersnow is rare, we could see some as part of metro Detroit’s impending blizzard.
Edwards explains that thundersnow occurs, “When we get thunder and snow at the same time.”
It’s unusual to experience thunder and lightning in the winter. Edwards says thundersnow is something we see every 2 or 3 years.
You need rising air, plenty of moisture and a good contrast between the coldest temperatures and the warmest temperatures at some level of the atmosphere.
Even though temperatures tonight wil be in the 20s at surface level, they could be in the 30s at higher altitudes. This produces the conditions that can lead to thundersnow.
Lightning is also present in a thundersnow situation. Edwards says lightning can reflect off of snowflakes and look almost like an explosion in the air.
Thundersnow really happens only in the biggest of snowstorms.
Meteorologist Sean Ash says thundersnow and sleet have been reported in Manchester, Romeo, Southfield, Carleton and Ann Arbor.
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