Why does a snowstorm in winter last so much longer than a thunderstorm in the summer?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
Why does a snowstorm in winter last so much longer than a thunderstorm in the summer?

Martin Kelly,
Oak Brook


Dear Martin,
Snowstorms and thunderstorms are entirely different kinds of precipitation-producing weather systems. Assuming they both move at approximately the same speed (30 mph) and in the same direction (southwest to northeast) … assumptions that are likely but not necessarily true … snowstorms are often huge weather systems whereas thunderstorms, by comparison, are small. U.S. snowstorms often extend several hundred miles from end to end and, in addition, are often accompanied by rain in their south or southeast portions. Individual thunderstorms rarely extend more than 50 miles. Consequently, they pass very quickly compared to snowstorms.

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