Thundersnow Buries Upstate New York

As if the bitter cold from the Polar Vortex wasn’t enough, by the end of this week, several places in upstate New York could be buried by up to 3 feet of snow — the result of a lake-effect snow band from Lake Ontario. Lake-effect snow occurs when very cold air moves across warm waters, providing energy and picking up water vapor, which freezes into snow and then deposited in large amounts on the leeward shores.

Lake-effect snow

Lake-effect snow

In this lake-effect however, our network also picked up a very rare occurrence, especially this time of year — lightning!

Credit: WeatherBug's StreamerRT

Credit: WeatherBug’s StreamerRT

Called ‘thundersnow’, it is an unusual kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain and caused by extreme temperature differences.



Interesting fact: The thunder from a typical thunderstorm can be heard many miles away, while the thunder from thundersnow can usually only be heard within a two to three mile radius from the lightning due to the snow acting as a sound dampener. Cold air is also more dense than warm air, and therefore a better conduit for sound to travel through.

Interstate 81 will be closed between Syracuse and Watertown and I-90 will see closures between Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY due to adverse conditions. No international airports are in the vicinity, so travel will not be severely affected. More news on this current cold weather

NY road conditions - Credit: New York State Department of Transportation

NY road conditions – Credit: New York State Department of Transportation

Stay Safe! Know Before™.

The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team



This entry was posted in Lightning, Snow, Winter.