What is thundersnow? The ‘light show mother nature put on for us’ in Ontario explained

Click to play video: 'Hamilton, Ont. doorbell camera captures stunning timelapse of thundersnow storm'
Hamilton, Ont. doorbell camera captures stunning timelapse of thundersnow storm
WATCH ABOVE: Flashes of lightning during a heavy Ontario snowstorm were captured on the door camera of a Hamilton, Ont., resident. The storm was marked by lightning, thunder and heavy snowfall across southern Ontario – Mar 4, 2023

Heavy snow across southern Ontario was punctuated by the rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning on Friday night as a winter storm rolled through.

The storm, dubbed thundersnow by many, was spotted across much of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area and beyond. Lighting lit up the snow — blue cracks of light flickering across the sky, followed by the long, crashing rumble of thunder.

Caley Bedore, a Global News weather specialist, said it was a “relatively rare weather phenomena,” not dissimilar to a summer thunderstorm, but with snow instead of rain.

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“You need to have those same elements in place for it to occur. The proper air masses and convection – that is that lift through updrafts associated with thunderstorms, which we had in place last night,” she said.

“That set up is much more common in the summertime – so thundersnow is fairly rare and is usually associated with those big storms and heavy snowfall rates.”

Examples of thundersnow were spotted across much of southern Ontario, with many taking to social media to share clips of the storm.

“This went from southwestern Ontario to downtown Toronto, through Peterborough and the Kawarthas and eastern Ontario,” Bedore added.

“What a light show mother nature put on for us with this one and it is rare to see it so widespread and frequent.”

Despite the slightly muffled thunder — dampened by the snow — the lightning is as potentially dangerous as it is in the summer, Bedore said.

“You still need to think about safety when it is occurring,” she warned.


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