WASHINGTON — Did you hear it? There was thunder snow in western Maryland and West Virginia this morning.
The video below (sound up!) is from WUSA9 Viewer Linda Nelson in Cumberland, Md. She told us it was "an awesome round of multiple bursts of thunder and lightning. The very first one set off our security alarm!"
Another Maryland resident, Adam, caught the lightning and the thunder on his 'ring' doorbell cam:
We were able to track this thunder snow on our Doppler radar, picking up the lightning strikes through the National Lightning Detection Network.
What is thunder snow and how does it form?
Thunder Snow can happen during winter storms or snow storm events when it is snowing heavily. These energetic snow storms can have areas of strong lift (upward motion), like in a summer thunderstorm.
In summer thunderstorms that create lightning, small hailstones in the clouds can collide. These collisions create static charges (think positive and negative). With enough buildup of charge, a giant spark, called lightning, can occur.
This "static electricity" is the same concept as when you may accidentally shock someone or get shocked while touching a doorknob in winter.
In a winter storm, instead of hailstones, snowflakes and sleet pellets high in the clouds can collide. Those collisions create the same static charges as in a summer thunderstorm. With enough static charge, lightning is created.
How does thunder happen from lightning
Thunder is the sound wave created by lightning. Lightning is very hot! It heats the air around it rapidly. This air expands rapidly, creating a shock wave of sound.
That's the boom you hear after a lightning strike!
So that is how you get thunder snow.