Unusual weather phenomenon observed during Ontario snowstorm explained


As a major snowstorm brought heavy snow to southern Ontario Friday evening, residents were met with another, surprising, weather phenomenon.

Just before 9 p.m. on Friday, residents began to report thunder and lightning amid the snowfall.

‘Thundersnow,’ simply put, is when lightning and thunder accompany a snowstorm, and although it doesn’t happen often, CP24 meteorologist Chris Potter said it’s not completely uncommon.

“Obviously, it doesn’t happen frequently with each and every storm,” Potter said. “There have to be certain mechanisms at play. One of them is significant lift [and] significant convection.”

Residents soon began to upload photos and videos of the phenomenon.

Several rounds of thundersnow being heard and seen on Lakeshore in Toronto. Somewhere beyond all that snow are the Toronto Islands and Lake Ontario! #ONStorm pic.twitter.com/FK3zJYUymF

— Daniel Milligan (@danielrmilligan) March 4, 2023

Lightning could be seen brightening the skies as snow poured down over the city.

The phenomenon was also experienced in Kitchener, Ont., and as far as Michigan, U.S.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, thunderstorms occur when an air mass becomes so unstable that it overturns violently, usually when drastically different temperatures meet. Thundersnows are fairly rare because, in winter, “the lower layers of air are colder — and have a lower dew point, [meaning] these kinds of atmospheric clashes are very unusual during colder months.”

“Still, thundersnow does happen,” the organization says.

Thundersnows are most common in the Great Lakes region because cold air blowing across the relatively mild water of the Great Lakes forces the air upwards rapidly enough that the instability causes lightning and thunder in conjunction with heavy snow, according to the Almanac.

CTV News Toronto weather specialist Jessica Smith also said these types of late winter storm aren’t uncommon.

“We are entering the time of year where the battle between cold arctic air is battling against the warmer southern air as we transition into spring,” Smith said. “Texas Lows are high-impact systems.”

Smith says the storm’s greatest impact will be seen from 9 p.m. Friday through to 12 a.m. Saturday, with heavy wet snow expected through to Saturday morning.

Share post:




More like this

Conservatives attempt to force top Trudeau aide to testify on Beijing interference

Politics·NewThe Conservatives have put forward a motion in the...

Republicans demand Manhattan DA Bragg turn over docs related to Trump investigation

House Republicans are targeting the Manhattan District Attorney's office...

Cannibalism and massacres: The dark history of the Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail connected the Missouri River in the...

Putin welcomes Xi to Moscow for Chinese leader’s first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine

Xi Jinping has met with Vladimir Putin at the...