Discuss this post in our forums

26 Responses to “Thundersnow”

  1. Doctor Device says:

    to quote Lewis Black: “They didn’t have weather like that in THE BIBLE!”

  2. Damn… now my 430EX II feels ridiculous :-(

  3. eldritch says:

    Wow. I’m not sure whether it’s the quality of the microphone, or if the thunder was actually muffled somehow by the cold air and the atmospheric acoustics. I’m used to deep, heavy, crackling, rolling, sub-tropical thunder. This sounds surreal and wrong to my ears.

    • Paul Renault says:

      Um, the sound of thunder (assuming it was thunder – might be power lines being grounded by the snow) was very likely muffled by the snow, not the cold air.  I’ve found that in cold, usually dry air, sound travels well.

  4. Nylund says:

    I just experienced this for the first time here in Dallas a few weeks back.  I didn’t know thunder and lightening could accompany snow until then.  It was weird.

  5. eldritch says:

    Now I’m eager to see photos of thundersnow over an active volcano.

  6. Kirby_G says:

    Looks like a plain old snowstorm not a blizzard.  Blizzards have winds over 35 mph for over 3 hours.

    SOURCE:  I’m from Winnipeg.  Don’t tell me that’s a blizzard.

    • Paul Renault says:

      Thank you!  Amen!  So say we all!

      Next on boingboing: a video of a pug outside, walking around unimpeded by 4 cm of powder snow on the ground – Video title: Snow-pocalypse!

      • Rich Keller says:

        My wife raised the same question about the wind speed. I just presumed that hipsters in Brooklyn were behind it for some reason.

  7. pjcamp says:

    Boing Boing made my day! I’ve been asking weathermen about the possibility of thunderblizzards for 30 years without getting a straight answer.

    • kringlebertfistyebuns says:

      All’s I can say is you must’ve been asking the wrong weatherfolk.  Thundersnow isn’t an uncommon occurrence.  

      I will say that in my encounters with the phenomenon I don’t recall much in the way of actual blizzard conditions (i.e. high winds and heavy snow).  You just get a ton of snow – heavy, wet snow typically.

  8. Preston Sturges says:

    I’ve seen thunder snow a couple times and it should always be considered extremely dangerous.   Because of the strong cold  downdrafts associated with thunderstorms, white-out conditions can develop within minutes even though the temperature was 48 degrees just a few minutes earlier.   Thunder snow may bring 3 to 9 inches of wet snow per hour

    Residents of the DC area may remember the Valentines blizzard of 1983

    February 11-12, 1983: The Blizzard of 1983 beat the Presidents’ Day Storm and was the second greatest snowfall for Baltimore since records began. It covered an unusually large area of Virginia and Maryland with more than a foot of snow. Two feet of snow lay in a band across Washinton, Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Howard and Baltimore Counties. The storm set a new 24 hour snowfall record at Baltimore with 22.8 inches. Parts of Northern Virginia up into western Maryland measured as much as 30 inches on the ground. Hagerstown reported 25 inches of snow (its second greatest storm behind the January 1996 snowstorm). For a couple hours of the storm, snow fall at an amazing rate of  3.5 inches per hour. Thunderstorms intensified the snowfall in some areas.Winds gusted over 25 mph all day on February 11 causing drifts up to five feet. The heavy snow and winds paralyzed the region. The cost of clearing the snow from roads was in the millions of dollars.

  9. I lived in Santa Fe, NM for years and it seems like we’d have one or two good Thundersnows a year.  The best I saw was a storm that settled in late afternoon, right after Thankgiving.  It started snowing normally for a while, then just as the sun set it really began coming down and the size of the flakes got huge.  It was so thick in the air that you really couldn’t see more than maybe 100yards or so as the sun dropped behind the mountains.  Right then it started to lightning and it would literally light the sky, bright, actinic blue from horizon to horizon.  When the thunder rolled, it wasn’t like a sharp crack but instead a very muted rumble that seemed to go on and on.
    That’s one of the things that I find truly magical about that part of the world.

  10. Petzl says:

    Not bad for a 7D.  I have a 1D.

  11. Thorzdad says:

    I’ve experienced thundersnow here in Indiana. It’s pretty disorienting the first time you experience it, since, you know…lightning…thunder! But, freezing cold! And snow!

  12. bcsizemo says:

    This happens from time to time in NC as well.  As for the thunder it is usually that low rumbling kind that builds and builds like its rolling across the ground.  

  13. Andrew McKay says:

    It’s not super common, but we get lightning and thunder in blizzards every few years in Winnipeg.  Considering how dry the air gets and friction in the air with the wind.  I’m often surprised there isn’t more!

    As for sound in the cold.  The colder the air, the better sound travels.  In the summer there is no way I can hear the planes on the ground at the airport (I live 5 miles away).  On a crisp -40C night you can hear them spool up their engines on the while taxiing if you’re paying attention.

  14. david steinmuller says:

    We usually get at least one a winter in Cleveland. The first time my wife saw it she was so frightened that she was ready to cry.

  15. spejic says:

    Sound of the drums
    Beatin’ in my heart
    The thunder of guns
    Tore me apart.
    You’ve been – Thundersnowed!

  16. Preston Sturges says:

    I drove into thundersnow on the interstate even though it had been almost 50 degrees a couple mile up the road.

    Visibility dropped to about 60 feet, the road vanished, and the windshield wipers got stuck.  I hung my head out the window to see as I crept to a rest area a couple hundred yards away.  I wondered why my headlights seemed so dim, and when I stopped I discovered they had an inch of ice and snow stuck to the headlights. 

  17. Andrea says:

    Whoo, thundersnow! I’ve experienced that twice in my life: October 1997 and just this winter. The first time has gone down in the history of Omaha, Nebraska not for the depth of the snow or the fierceness of the wind, but for the way we were completely unprepared. Weather forecasters failed spectacularly, trees still had leaves, which the snow clung to, destroying trees with sheer weight, and the public power district’s then-new outage reporting system failed from the overload. The kids in elementary school got a week’s worth of snowdays.

    Have fun, New York!

  18. miasm says:

    The idle small-talk of the not-to-distant future will surely be full of phrases like ‘thunder snow’ and ‘cryoclastic hailstorm’.

  19. Art says:

    Heard it (and saw it) from here (southampton)