Butler County's great daily newspaper

Snow storm brings thunder to county

February 18, 2014 News Extra

Advertisement | Advertise Here

Snow, sleet, freezing rain. Even thunder and lightning.

The latest winter storm this morning had a mash-up of weather events.

“It had pretty much everything,” said Rodney Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

More than commuters cared to see or hear.

The precipitation and occasional blowing snow at times created near whiteout conditions. The wild weather was blamed for several accidents just before and after dawn,

“The roads are horrible,” state police Cpl. Terry Walker said just before 8 a.m. “PennDOT’s been out but they just can’t keep up.”

There were several spinouts that rendered vehicles disabled along highways and interstates, according to police and dispatchers for the county’s 911 system.

An armored car rolled over about 7:05 a.m. on Interstate 79 in Jackson Township, Walker said. No injuries were reported.

About five minutes later, a car slid out of control on Route 356 in Winfield Township and ended up in a field.

The blast of Old Man Winter prompted all Butler County school districts to cancel classes for the day.

Weather observers reported 5 to 6 inches in much of the county.

Many residents probably couldn’t believe their eyes or ears just before day break.

That boom, bang, flash many heard and saw was a rare phenomenon called “thundersnow.”

Smith explained that thundersnow is caused by a rapid updraft in winter storm systems, often from a powerful jet stream. Air is suctioned into the clouds, where the moisture condenses and becomes snow.

Simultaneously, the intensity of the updrafts produces turbulence that packs enough power to spark lightning.

“The thundersnow was pretty widespread,” Smith said. “It was throughout the region.”

Share this article: