Storm Gladys to bring winter storm – what is thundersnow?

Weather: Met Office issues yellow warnings for storms and snow

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Yet another storm is heading for the UK, with 70mph winds and heavy snowfall expected to cause disruption right across the country. Maps from WX Charts have forecast a significant drop in temperatures, falling as low as -8C in the early hours of Friday morning – but what does it mean for you? Predictions of 30cm deep snowfall could cause thundersnow to blast entire regions – and this is what to expect.

What is thundersnow?

Thundersnow is a rare weather event which causes heavy rain to fall as snow.

Also known as a thunder snow storm, this shocking phenomenon combines thunder and lightning with freezing snow to form very unsettled weather conditions.

While thunderstorms are more common during bouts of humid weather, the winter climate can quickly turn harmless rain into disruptive snow – a very different experience to a summertime thunderstorm.

Met Office meteorologist Emma Sharples said: “It is possible, all that really needs is for thunder to happen at the same time as the snow.

“So where you get very active or vigorous showers… then we could well get some thunder as well. It is definitely possible.”

Read More: UK weather: Exact time Storm Gladys will hit today

What does thundersnow sound like?

Thunder and lighting is known for its fierce crackling sound and bright flashes, but when accompanied by snow, it can appear quite extraordinary.

The Met Office said: “While the thunder from a typical thunderstorm might be heard many miles away, the thunder during a thundersnow event will only be heard if you are within two to three miles of the lightning.”

While this unique weather event is not only quieter than your average thunderstorm, the white snowflakes can reflect an even more luminous flash of lightning into the night sky.

How dangerous is thundersnow?

Heavy downpours of snow have been known to fall at a rate of five to 10cm per hour during a thunder snowstorm.

While the snow itself is not painful or dangerous as it falls, the knock-on effect on travel and buildings can be destructive.

In the event of thundersnow, you should be aware of:

  • Reduced visibility on the road
  • Blizzards making roads and surfaces slippery
  • Snow drifts

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If you need to make essential journeys during a thunder snowstorm it is crucial to take steps to prepare for the trip.
Before setting off, you should clear your car windows completely.

It is not only dangerous, but it is also an offence to drive without proper visibility from your vehicle.

Always stick to major roads, as these are more likely to have been properly gritted for drivers.

Fill up a full tank of petrol and be sure to check your oil and other engine fluids before heading out on the road.

Lastly, you should pack a storm supply kit as a last resort in the event of an emergency during a storm.

You should include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Blankets
  • A torch
  • A first aid kit
  • A fully charged phone
  • A shove
  • Jump leads
  • De-icer fluid

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