Thanks to Bill Resetar for this shot showing the wintry mix of sleet,ice,freezing rain and a bit of snow that hit Keller, Texas today.
Thanks to Perrin Bryant of Eugene Oregon for sending along this shot of the snow-covered city taken during his morning commute. Perrin reports that another 2 to 3 inches have fallen since then.
Is it possible for it to thunder and lightning while it is snowing?
Thanks, Maura Hough 11 years old
It certainly is and it is called thundersnow. Thundersnow is a relatively rare event in Chicago, but it does occur during powerful winter storms. Snowfall can be intense when accompanied by thunder, falling at blinding intensities with accumulations up to 4 inches an hour. Several episodes of thunder and lightning occurred during Chicago’s 2011 Ground Hog Day blizzard, and on Dec. 15, 1987, the city was buried by 8 inches of snow in just four hours during a major thundersnow event. Thundersnow can also occur during lake-effect snow events, a result of the extreme instability caused by arctic air passing over the Great Lakes’ warmer waters.
Brutally cold air, the chilliest to sweep into the West and the nation’s mid-section in years set new temp records across sections of 10 states west of Chicago Thursday.
Morning readings in Montana plunged as low as 30-below zero—-a level more than 40-degrees below normal.
In Denver, Colorado, where readings spiked at 62-degrees Monday, temps early Thursday tumbled to a record-breaking 15-below. That put the city’s temp pullback in this arctic outbreak at 77-degrees—a cool-off of impressive proportions.
Among the records set Wednesday were temps of 25-below at Great Falls, MT; 23 below Denton, UT; 23 below Milford, UT; 15 below Denver, CO and 11 below Grand Junction , CO.
Daytime temperatures Thursday from Montana to North Dakota failed to break above zero.
Chicago’s 56-degree Wednesday high, a product of unseasonably strong southerly winds east of a storm which buried sections of northern Minnesota under 40” of snow, was nowhere to be found Thursday. By late evening, the Chicago area had registered a 33-degree temp plunge in just over 24 hours.
Temperatures are to reach 10-month lows Friday through Saturday—and colder air is ahead next week
The cold air tightens its grip on the Chicago area Friday. Though modest northwest winds are to spare the area brutal wind chills, thermometer readings are likely to rise no higher than the low 20s. That makes this cold air punch the chilliest here in the 10 months since February. Likewise, Friday night’s single-digit lows will establish a new benchmark for this season’s cold temperatures to-date.
The arrival of some snow later Sunday and Sunday night could set the stage for even colder temperatures next week by producing a highly reflective snowpack here. Our coldest temperatures occur when snow is on the ground because of its reflective nature. Incoming sunlight, which might otherwise warm the air, is set back into space, nullifying its ability to warm. This increases the chance that a new punch of arctic air next week will prove the coldest yet. It also means Bears fans had better prepare for bitting northwest winds, temps in the teens, and wind chills which could be near zero or a bit lower Monday night.
If we should have a cold winter,
— Scott Smith, Joliet
It’s possible, but it has never happened in ice records dating from 1900. Wave action and wind, combined with the vast reservoir of heat contained in the lake, have prevented complete freezing. Ice formation on Lake Michigan usually begins in January and reaches its peak in late February or early March.
Data provided by Environment Canada and the U.S. National Weather Service indicate that ice coverage on Lake Michigan reached 90 to 95 percent in the winters of 1903-04, 1976-77 and 1978-79. Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie have frozen over in a few harsh winters since 1900, but Michigan and Ontario have never attained complete ice coverage.
Dear Tom, Please explain the difference between rain and showers, and between snow showers and flurries.
— Tracy Schultz, Chicago?
Showers of rain and snow are characterized by suddenness: abrupt onset, short duration, quick cessation. The abruptness of showery precipitation, whose duration is measured in minutes, contrasts with rain or snow that persists for hours.
The difference between snow showers and flurries is a matter of intensity. Flurries bring snow of minimal intensity with little or no accumulation. Snow showers are much more vigorous and can result in quick accumulation. But the heavy hitters of the “snow-shower world” are snow bursts and snow squalls — blinding episodes of intense snow accompanied briefly by strong, gusty winds and near-zero visibility.