Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wacky Winter Weather

There is a popular saying in the North East, "If you do like the weather wait a minute and it will change."  That describes yesterday's weather. 

I awoke to a blue sky with plenty of sunshine and by the time I headed out to ski the temperature was in the mid-twenties.  After lunch, I decided to get away from the crowded Killington slopes and headed into the woods for a peaceful snowshoe.  I began my snowshoe with an overcast sky and a few snow flurries.  An hour later, the snowflakes were big and the landscape looked like a Currier and Ives painting.

After a short rest and shower, I headed out to dinner.  As I drove down the mountain the precipitation had change to sleet, then freezing rain. 

The drive home from dinner had to be one of the scariest drives of my life.  The clouds had opened up to dump golf ball sized hailstones accompanied by thunder and lightning.  The wet roads and cold temperatures created a layer of ice over the pavement. Cars were stuck in ditches and many motorists could not make it up the mountain roads.  They were stopped midway up with the tires spinning as they willed their cars to continue up the road. 

The odd thing was the temps had stayed in the mid-twenties most of the day and all of the evening.  I always thought thunderstorms occurred with drastic changes of temperature.  I guess I was wrong.

I did a websearch to find out more about winter thunderstorms. I found out they are referred to as "thundersnow."  Thundersnow is a rare weather event which occurs when there is a strong instability, along with plenty of moisture in the atmosphere.  Jim Cantore from the Weather Chanel freaked out while reporting in Chicago last week when he was surprised by thundersnow.

Thundersnow is a rare event that indicates significant snowfall somewhere within the weather storm system.  A severe thundersnow event accompanied by hailstones like the one that I experienced last night is even rarer (abcnews.comtheweatherprediction.com).  We ended up total of 6 inches of snow from yesterdays storm.  I have to say it was one wacky weather day, and I hope it is not repeated anytime soon.

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