Rare Wintertime Thunderstorms Recorded over the U.S. Gulf Coast

As fierce winter storms pummeled much of North America in February, lightning danced over the Gulf Coast. “Thundersnow”—thunderstorm activity during a winter snowstorm—is rare, and researchers are now poring over data from the Houston Lightning Mapping Array network to better understand this elusive phenomenon.

Most thunderstorms tend to occur in spring and summer, and atmospheric science provides an explanation: Warmer conditions are conducive to lifting parcels of air, which transport water vapor upward. This convection is critical to the formation of thunderclouds, said Tim Logan, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University in College Station. “Storms need energy to develop.”

A Boost from the Cold


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