Thundersnow: why it happens and how it forms
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.
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.
So if you’ve had the chance to catch thunder and lightning in the winter, consider yourself lucky.
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