January 29, 2019 9:41 pm

Thundersnow: why it happens and how it forms

Tue, Jan 29: Albertans were lucky enough to witness the phenomenon of thundersnow near Drumheller this weekend, when an intense cold front tore through the province. Meteorologist Tiffany Lizee explains how and why thundersnow occurs.

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Thunderstorms are common in the summer but can actually occur in the winter as well.

Not just any winter storm can produce thunder and lightning.

Cold, winter air tends to be more stable which makes thundersnow in the prairies a rare occurrence.

READ MORE: Winter wallop hits prairies for last weekend of January

WATCH: Weather reporter goes insane over witnessing thundersnow six times

Albertans were lucky enough to witness the phenomenon near Drumheller in late January, when an intense cold front tore through the province.

How it forms

Warm air is lifted over cold air and as it rises, it condenses the moisture. That is how we get clouds and precipitation.

During winter, temperatures are cold, so snowflakes fall instead of rain.

In a thundersnow storm, the upward gust of air moves really quickly and this causes collisions between precipitation and cloud particles.

The collisions create positive and negative charges, which can eventually spark lightning.

You may be able to see the amazing white flash, but the rumble of thunder is often muffled by the snow and can only be heard within a few kilometres of the source.

READ MORE: Canadian winter weather facts that you probably didn’t know

So if you’ve had the chance to catch thunder and lightning in the winter, consider yourself lucky.

To stay updated with radar and weather alerts in your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

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