WeatherWeather Blog


Thunder sleet pelts Omaha, residents show via social media

Posted at 6:12 PM, Feb 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-20 19:12:23-05

Every time a big snow is in the forecast, we always get the same question: "Will there be 'thunder snow'?"

Monday night, we had something similar, but even less common — and it had a lot of people grabbing their smart phones.

A lot of us were looking up last night as another round of wintry mix moved in. But this one was different — almost spring-like, with lightning and thunder. It was so surprising, many started recording it and sharing it on social media.

The storm system had enough instability to produce fairly heavy sleet. And all that sleet bumping into itself high in the sky caused static electricity, enough to make a lot of lightning, followed by thunder.

We saw hundreds of lightning strikes show up on our radar as the sleet moved in.

While this is similar to "thunder snow," we were seeing sleet instead of snow due to one difference: a warm pocket of air high in the sky melted everything as it came out of the clouds. But as that rain fell further, there was enough cold air to freeze it into little ice pellets we call sleet, and combine that with the lightning — we had "thunder sleet"!

Along with the thunder sleet, we also had freezing rain, the combination of the two making for a slippery morning commute in many cities.