Storm bringing a chance of ‘thundersnow’?

WASHINGTON — The National Weather Service says some thunder and lightning could accompany the heavy snow that is predicted to fall across the Washington area.

Although rare, Brian LaSorsa with the National Weather Service, says “thundersnow” can occur if conditions in the middle layers of the atmosphere are just right.

“Most people don’t associate thunderstorms with snow,” says LaSorsa, an operational forecaster with the NWS in Sterling, Va.

“This is more of a weaker system, so it’s less likely we’ll see thundersnow but it’s not totally out of the question, because there is some instability and strong upward motion with this system.”

The late-winter cyclone will be dragging a moisture-laden air mass northward into the Mid Atlantic. This low-level air will be undercutting colder, drier mid-level air that will be sweeping in from the north. This could provide a window of opportunity for a few pockets of lightning to develop.

ABC7 Meteorologist Alex Liggitt says that while thundersnow is possible, exactly where the heaviest bands of snow develop is still in question.

“We should have a huge convergence zone in the region, with 1- to 2-inch-per-hour snow bands,” Liggitt says.

Thunderstorms coincided with wintry precipitation across parts of Oklahoma and the southern Mississippi Valley region late Sunday.

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