BUFFALO, N.Y. – A historic winter storm pummeling western New York is not only bringing the prospects of multiple feet of snow to the Buffalo area, but the storms are powerful enough to add in a rare display of thundersnow.
Drone video by Live Storm Media's Brandon Clement captured the surreal nighttime scenes over the Buffalo skyline Thursday night, showing a mix of intense snow squalls blowing in off Lake Erie along with the occasional flash of lightning.
Thundersnow is the same as a regular thunderstorm, only getting the nickname when accompanying snowfall. Its lightning is just as dangerous.
FOX Weather meteorologist Marissa Lautenbacher said warm air can be pulled into the snowstorm, which would cause the system to be more convective and unstable.
"The turbulent winds within the storm cause the ice crystals to slam into each other," she said. "This results in a separation of charges in the storm, similar to the static you'll get rubbing your hair onto a balloon. When the charges build up, you'll get enough to create lightning."
Thundersnow can occur anywhere heavy snow is falling but has been observed many times during lake-effect snowstorms such as the one hitting western New York this week.
Several storm chasers and photographers have captured thundersnow on video already during this event, which will likely go down in the record books as one of the most powerful snowstorms in Buffalo history.
Already more than a foot of snow had fallen across the region as of Friday morning with several more hours of snowfall yet to go, leading to predicted storm snowfall totals of 2-4 feet.