Thundersnow and Global Warming – The Mid West Takes a Beating

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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Thundersnow and Global Warming – The Mid West Takes a Beating

Dad,

You mentioned thunder and snow in your article about the Midwestern storms that are covering us in a post-Christmas winter wonderland   I have noticed the lightning, thunder and snow several times in the last couple of weeks.  I have never seenor heard that before, so I looked it up.  Wikipedia says this about thundersnow:

There are usually three forms of thundersnow:

  • A normal thunderstorm on the leading edge of a cold front or warm front that can either form in a winter environment or one that runs into cool air and where the precipitation takes the form of snow.
  • A heavy synoptic snowstorm in the comma head of an extratropical cyclone that sustains strong vertical mixing which allows for favorable conditions for lightning and thunder to occur.
  • A lake effect or ocean effect thunderstorm which is produced by cold air passing over relatively warm water, this effect commonly produces snow squalls over the Great Lakes.

One unique aspect of thundersnow is that the snowfall acts as an acoustic suppressor of the thunder. The thunder from a typical thunderstorm can be heard many kilometers away, while the thunder from thundersnow can usually only be heard within a two to three kilometer radius from the lightning. In the United States, March is their peak month of formation, and on average, only three events are reported per year.

So, this is a rare event.  and, in our lifetime, we should be able to count on one hand the number of storms in which this happens.  I have experienced it twice in two weeks that I can be certain of.   Is it becoming less rare?  What are the implications of this kind of storm happening more often?  Your Briggs and Stratton stocks will do well, because everyone will own a snowblower.

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning after our Ash Wednesday Prayer service.  He teaches Environmental Science at the University and was explaining the relationship that these storms have to our global warming cycle.  I wish that I could have had him write it down, because even with a minor in Geography I couldn’t repeat it all here, but I am convinced that things are changing.

This is supposed to be rare.  We will see if a new pattern emerges.

Bryan.

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