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Weather

'Thundersnow' is the icing on the cake for this winter in Michigan

thundersnow_flickr.jpg
user woodleywonderworks
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Flickr
Snow falling.

Across parts of Michigan, you might have heard this during the torrent of snow this morning:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuUFs9wE9e4

Marcin Szczepanski with the University of Michigan College of Engineering shot that video while on campus today.

So what is this "thundersnow" stuff?

One theory is that winter has just been partying too much:

But the staff at Stateside with Cynthia Canty weren't satisfied with that theory, so they called up Scott Vaccaro at the National Weather Service.

"Thundersnow is associated with very intense snowfall," Vaccaro said. "It's a very dynamic storm system that has a lot of rapidly rising air, and that's typically during the summer months and spring months with your traditional thunderstorm. But in the winter climates, the thunderstorm isn't as high or as tall... it's more embedded within a larger storm system that is depositing wintry weather within a large area."

Listen to his explanation here:

Christine Dell'Amore of National Geographic News has an explanation too.

The "tricky part" for making thundersnow, Market said, is creating that atmospheric instability in the wintertime. For thundersnow to occur, the air layer closer to the ground has to be warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow—a very precise circumstance.

Thundersnow. The cherry on top for this winter.

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