Thunder In Winter = Snow?

January 4th, 2011 at 10:06 am by under Weather

There is an old folklore that if you hear thunder in the Winter, then you will get snow in the next 10 days.  I believe that this is mostly true actually.  I’ve seen it happen a few times in the last 6 years.  I found a nice website that goes into the details.  Check it out: Snow/Thunder Why is this pertinent?  Well, on Sunday my weather watcher Greg heard a couple of rumbles of thunder.  Yep!  Buy your snow shovels.  Well, maybe.  We actually do have a chance for some snow on Friday.  Before we get to that I’ll cover a couple more immediate things, and then we’ll get right back to the snow talk. 

First off…take a look at this sunrise from this morning:

Tower Cam This Morning

The sky was even redder before I took this shot.  It brings up another folklore.  “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning”.  Today is a good example of folklore not being 100% true.  There will be no thunder this afternoon.  There won’t even be rain or snow.  Instead it was a nice little pocket of clouds and moisture that moved through at the right time and created that effect.  So not every weather proverb comes to fruition. 

We had a cold start this morning with lows in the 20s.  Today with a southwest wind and fair skies we’ll manage highs in the upper 40s to near 50.  A dry cold front will move through and drop tomorrow’s high temperatures to the low 40s.  Winds are southwest today at 10-15mph, tomorrow they will be out of the north at 10-15mph.  We’ll stay dry through Thursday. 

So let’s talk about the possible snow for Friday.  A weak surface trough (line of lower pressure) will move across Virginia and move offshore.  As it moves offshore it will become a closed low.  This means that the isobars will no longer kink.  They will close together to form a low pressure area.  The speed at which this happens will determine how much snow we’ll see.  For now it ranges from some scattered flurries and light snow showers to a couple of inches of snow on the ground.  It’s interesting this time that the forming low will quickly follow another low pressure system that will be moving away from us. That first low is a system that will pass well to our south on Thursday.  It is the low that is further north on the forecast map below. 

Friday's Forecast Systems

There will be plenty of cold air for this system to work with.  There may be a brief mix, but I think whatever falls will be mostly snow.  I won’t hit the models too hard, but I will discuss them below.  Then I’ll give my simpler 2 cents at the end. 

The Models: The overnight run of the NAM is on the tail end of the event.  It only shows some scattered light snow showers in the afternoon.  The event will be deeper into the morning run which I may get before I finish this blog.  The overnight run of the GFS  has some light snow from the midday through the evening.  Possibly moderate for a while in the evening as the low forms offshore (998mb).  As the low pushes away dry air moves in and takes over.  The low doesn’t really strengthen until it moves pretty far away though.  The Canadian model agrees that there will be a trough, but instead merges it with the first low.  So it also shows light amounts, but not much for accumulations.  The European looks fairly similar to the GFS. NO model shows a huge amount of snow like the last event.  Last time the low formed and came up from the south along the coast.  It had a lot of moisture to work with as well.  This time the low is expected to form coming off of land. 

My 2 Cents:  This system is definitely different from the last one.  Again, so far nothing is showing a big snow event.  With that said, the timing of the snow may have an impact.  You don’t need much snow to affect the commutes here in Hampton Roads.  We could get some snow that will affect the evening commute on Friday.   Even if it’s light, then it could still cause some trouble.  So we’ll have to watch it closely.  A couple of inches are possible, but it is still very early to call for amounts.  If you missed it, then please check out my last blog which was a fun look at the love/hate relationship with snow:  Snow Love/Hate Philosophy  By the way, the morning NAM just came in and it does have snow on Friday evening.  One or two pockets of moderate snow even.  Stay tuned!

Tip of the Day: Don’t get back into your vehicle when you are filling it up with gas.  Especially in the Winter when the air is really dry.  You could build up static electricity and accidentally spark the gas. 

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

5 Responses to “Thunder In Winter = Snow?”

  1. Carolina says:

    We heard several good rumbles of thunder Sunday afternoon here in Elizabeth City. Will be watching the models closely!! Thank you =)

  2. sheila hightower says:

    I was raised here and actually remember storms with thunder and snow at the same time. It also happened when we lived in Northern Virginia once. Thanks for always keeping us up to date!! :)

  3. Laura says:

    Hey Jeremy! I heard there is another system on the way for Mon-Tues. Any snow???

  4. Joel says:

    Growing up in Southeastern NY we would have thunder during a snowstorm from time to time. It creates a whiteout and downpour of snow. Usually 2-3 inches in an hour. Pretty awesome

  5. T. Taylor says:

    I think this winter is going to easily break some long standing records. Never mind December’s storms and those in the 7-day forecast, some of the long range models are suggesting extremely frigid air for the mid part of this month. However the models are constantly changing.

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