Thundersnow: What causes lightning and thunder during a snowstorm?

Thundersnow was reported in Boone, North Carolina, on Monday morning and near Huntsville, Alabama, on Sunday night

Most people associate thunder and lightning with thunderstorms, but you shouldn't be surprised if you hear a rumble or two coming from the sky during heavy snowfall.

FOX Weather meteorologist Marissa Lautenbacher says while thundersnow is a rare phenomenon, it can happen. Such was the case early Monday morning in Boone, North Carolina when heavy snow was falling during the first snowstorm of 2022.

Lautenbacher says 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."

Security camera footage obtained by FOX Weather showed what appeared to be thundersnow in New Market, Alabama, some 15 miles northeast of Huntsville, late Sunday night as a rare snowstorm blanketed the Deep South.

Thundersnow can occur anywhere heavy snow is falling, and the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory says it can also be observed downstream of the Great Salt Lake and Great Lakes during lake-effect snowstorms.

It's also important to note that while it's exciting and rare to see lightning and hear thunder during a snowstorm – it's still just as dangerous as it would be during a rainstorm. If you're outside during winter weather and you see lightning or hear thunder, it's best to head back inside, where you can enjoy the snow from the comfort of your home.