Why did we get a thunderstorm in winter?

February 27, 2008 1:59:01 PM PST
Thunderstorms can happen any time of year. It doesn't have to be spring or summer!

Erica's Answer:

Thunder and lightning can occur anytime there's an excessive amount of energy in the atmosphere. The thunder you hear and lightning you see are nature's way of ridding itself of excess energy. In the instance of February 9th, a strong pocket of upper-level energy was rotating through the Delaware Valley. The long- winded phrase that describes this piece of energy is "mesoscale vorticity maximum". Vorticity refers to the amount of spin in a portion of the atmosphere, and the change in vorticity causes energy to build up. As this pocket of energy quickly moved across our area, it tried to release the excess energy. The energy builds up due to friction in the atmosphere, and lightning is the quick, electrical release of that energy. Thunder results from the lightning, as electrical and light energies are converted into sound energy.

- Erica


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