It seems that in order for lightning to occur, a specific kind of cloud is needed. Lightning occurs when water droplets and ice crystals collide with each other within cumulonimbus clouds, causing a static electrical charge to build up. When the charge gets great enough to spark, the resulting lightning superheats the surrounding air which causes the air to expand rapidly, and that’s what causes thunder. For snow to form, a different kind of cloud is needed and the temperature from the bottom of the cloud to the ground must be below 40 degrees F, otherwise the snow will melt and create rain or sleet instead.
While thunder and lightning are uncommon to see during snowstorms, it does still happen occasionally. Scientists refer to them as thundersnow-storms. These storms are caused by the same thing that causes summer thunderstorms: collision of hot and cold air molecules, and then expansion and heating of the air. Scientists believe that thundersnow is uncommon because “due to the subzero temperatures, interactions between supercooled liquid water, ice crystals and larger ice particles can also generate lightning.” These type of storms don’t move, so they are accompanied by extremely heavy snow.
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