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Author Topic: Why is there no lightning during snow storms?  (Read 32062 times)

Offline eddirichard

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« on: 25/06/2004 17:44:06 »
My daughter recently asked me why theres no lightning during snow storms. I couldn't give her an answer coz I swear I don't know!!Hehehe. Any Einsteins out there?
« Last Edit: 30/06/2004 08:49:12 by Exodus »


 

Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #1 on: 25/06/2004 18:30:03 »
I don't seem to recall that Einstein ever published any papers on weather prediction, and, of course, I do not claim to be in his league. However, I do recall this: Lightning does occur during snow storms, but it is quite rare.  Lightning is produced best in storms that are created from large amounts of solar energy, especially those that heat up the ground during the day, and carry a lot of heat energy into the stratosphere in a few hours. Electric charge is carried away from the ground in this way, and returns as lightning discharges. There is also cloud-to-cloud lightning, which is much more frequent than a cloud-to-ground strikes. That is also caused by air and water-vapor movement, both vertical and horizontal. I'm being purposely vague here, since the details can get pretty complex. This is a good research subject, by the way.

At any rate, in most places, large amounts of solar energy do not accompany snow storms. Lighning does still happen, and I've even heard the thunder, but I have not observed any strikes, so I do not know if it was cloud-ground, or cloud-cloud.
 

Offline eddirichard

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Re: Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #2 on: 25/06/2004 18:39:19 »
Thanks for your input. I bet my 6 year old's gonna be quite happy that I found and answer!:)
 

Offline tjdgqx

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #3 on: 20/02/2008 09:31:57 »
I have seen a snow strom lightning ever,because of snowing it is so faint.
 

paul.fr

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #4 on: 20/02/2008 15:56:08 »
Almost 80% of all lightning goes unseen, and does not reach the ground. This is CC Thunder (cloud to cloud), It is possible that you were witnessing Thundersnow
 

Offline Exodus

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #5 on: 18/03/2008 21:08:49 »
Just a little input from me... about 3 years back, us Naked Scientists went to the Scientists meet the Media party in London and while waiting outside, were hit with Blizzards which were accompanied by thunder and lightning... i have to say that it was some of the weirdest weather i ever encountered!
 

Offline techmind

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #6 on: 18/03/2008 22:30:12 »
I'm not a meteorologist, but I thought thunderstorms arise in clouds which are every tall and have extremely strong convection currents resulting in hailstones (frozen water droplets) going round and round in the cloud, and accumulating charge in a similar fashion to a Van de Graaff generator. The water may or may not melt on its decent, so may be felt as either hailstones or heavy rain.
This is probably a different sort of cloud configuration from that which normally gives rise to snow.

Van de Graaf generator: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_de_Graaff_generator

That said, the previous poster reminds me that yes I think I also recall a very strange blizzard with a few thunderclaps a few years back (I would have been near Gatwick, to the south of London).
« Last Edit: 18/03/2008 22:33:10 by techmind »
 

Offline Exodus

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #7 on: 19/03/2008 21:36:09 »
I'm not a meteorologist, but I thought thunderstorms arise in clouds which are every tall and have extremely strong convection currents resulting in hailstones (frozen water droplets) going round and round in the cloud, and accumulating charge in a similar fashion to a Van de Graaff generator. The water may or may not melt on its decent, so may be felt as either hailstones or heavy rain.
This is probably a different sort of cloud configuration from that which normally gives rise to snow.

Van de Graaf generator: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_de_Graaff_generator

That said, the previous poster reminds me that yes I think I also recall a very strange blizzard with a few thunderclaps a few years back (I would have been near Gatwick, to the south of London).

twas end of January I think.
 

Offline chris

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #8 on: 20/03/2008 15:55:03 »
That's right, it was January 27th ish, 2004. We were waiting outside the Royal Society in London to hear David Attenborough speak when he was awarded the Faraday Medal. Suddenly there was thunder and the most incredible intense blizzard came out of nowhere, lasted 20 minutes then disappeared. Bizarre!

C
 

Offline chris

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #9 on: 20/03/2008 15:57:03 »
Here's an article I wrote a little while back which explains the science of thunderstorms and contains some useful stats:

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/articles/article/howdothunderstormswork-2/

Chris
 

paul.fr

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #10 on: 29/03/2008 22:00:32 »
when the temperatures are just below freezing and there is enough energy in the atmosphere, and a lot of moisture, thunderstorm clouds can form and release snow instead of rain.

This happens quite often in the US, in fact there have been reports of it happening just a few weeks ago.
 

Offline BH

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #11 on: 28/10/2008 20:31:48 »
Incase any ones interested, we (Harpenden, Herts)have had snow this evening (yes October!) and had several flshes of lightning with thunder
 

paul.fr

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #12 on: 28/10/2008 20:53:01 »
Incase any ones interested, we (Harpenden, Herts)have had snow this evening (yes October!) and had several flshes of lightning with thunder

Waas the sound of the thunder muffled? This happens with thundersnow.
 

Offline fiona

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #13 on: 28/10/2008 22:23:38 »
I'm in Hertford Herts UK. We have just had a snow storm for about 2 hours or so. We saw lighting, but we didn't hear any thunder. Is this classed as Thundersnow?
 

paul.fr

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #14 on: 29/10/2008 00:01:03 »
I'm in Hertford Herts UK. We have just had a snow storm for about 2 hours or so. We saw lighting, but we didn't hear any thunder. Is this classed as Thundersnow?

Yes, this is thundersnow. A possible reason why you may not have heard the thunder (hinted at in a previous post) is that snow muffles the sound.
 

paul.fr

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #15 on: 19/01/2009 17:12:59 »
Chasing 'Thundersnow' Could Lead To More Accurate Forecasts


ScienceDaily: Your source for the latest research news and science breakthroughs -- updated daily
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Chasing 'Thundersnow' Could Lead To More Accurate Forecasts

ScienceDaily (Jan. 15, 2009) The job of one University of Missouri researcher could chill to the bone, but his research could make weather predicting more accurate. Patrick Market, associate professor of atmospheric science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is chasing storms in the dead of winter in order to release weather balloons that will produce data about the little-known phenomenon of thundersnow............

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090113155852.htm
 

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Why is there no lightning during snow storms?
« Reply #15 on: 19/01/2009 17:12:59 »

 

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