Is lightning in thundersnow dangerous?
I was just wondering, is the lightning in thundersnow dangerous to people?
— Jeff Cummings, Griffith, Ind.
It is. Thundersnow lightning and thunder during snowstorms is a rare event in our climate, but it does occur here as witnessed by a national TV audience during the city’s 21.2-inch Groundhog Day Blizzard in February 2011. Roger Edwards, a lead forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., advises that all lightning, whether it occurs in warm-season thunderstorms or during snowstorms, should be treated with respect. The threats in both situations are identical because, as Edwards says, “Lightning, wherever it occurs, is still lightning.” U.S. lightning deaths have been decreasing in recent years. In 2017, there were only 17 lightning deaths, the lowest on record since tabulations began in 1940.