Thunderstorms over the Arctic Ocean

Dear Tom,
The narrator in a Discovery Channel special said thunderstorms sometimes occur over the Arctic Ocean even though it is mostly ice-covered. Do they have their facts straight?

–Donna Peklo

Dear Donna,
Thunderstorms do occur in the frigid north polar region, though rarely.
Barrow, Alaska, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean at 71 degrees north latitude, is North America’s northernmost habitation and, in weather records dating from 1910, observed its first thunderstorm June 20, 2000. Thunderstorms had been seen there before, but always at a distance and never in the town itself.
An essential ingredient of a thunderstorm is a current of rising mild air in which water vapor is condensing into precipitation particles that generate electric charges sufficient to trigger lightning. A dearth of mild air in the Arctic greatly limits thunderstorm activity.

Heavy snow reaches Joliet area

At 11 pm it was snowing heavily in the Joliet area with the visibility at 1/4 mile. The area of snow was moving south through Cook and Will counties. Conditions were slowly improving from the north across the north and central portions of the Chicago area.  Whiteout conditions and thunder and lightning were still accompanying the snow.

Some late snow reports

Oak Brook 4.3 inches

Palos Heights- thundersnow

Mt. Prospect near Golf and Busse 8 inches