thundersnow, snow thunder
Thundersnow is a phenomenon in which snow is the primary precipitation in a thunder storm. Photo: Getty Images

At first, it sounds like something man-made — maybe a garbage barrel being thrown to the ground or fallout from a construction site. But as its roar grows and bellows among the quickly falling snow it's clear:  Thundersnow has struck.

Thundersnow, also known as Snow Thunder, is one of nature's magically terrifying wonders. According to meteorologists, Thundersnow is a snowstorm event in which thunder and lightning occur. It happens when snow falls as the primary precipitation instead of rain, and tends to develop when the air is below freezing near the ground.

Wednesday's snowstorm, dubbed Winter Storm Quinn, brought with it massive bouts of Thundersnow, which when heard from inside a New York City tower can truly cause a workplace commotion. 

The National Weather Service said it started receiving reports of Thundersnow in New York City just after 12 p.m. Wednesday, as the snowstorm grew in intensity around Manhattan and the rest of the Northeast. Meteorologists confirmed the Thundersnow strike around 12:20 p.m. Snow thunder is a rare event, forecasters say, occurring in only .07 percent of snowstorms.


Check out a video of one of Wednesday's Thundersnow rumbles below:

Why is Thundersnow so loud?

Thundersnow is actually about as loud as traditional thunderstorms, but because the event is so rare it often catches people off guard. In addition to startling observers, Thunderstorm also has the potential for danger. One of the main concerns is lightning strikes. The thunder also causes the snow to fall more aggressively, which can lead to white out conditions.

After Wednesday's midday stirke, puzzled New Yorkers took to Twitter to commiserate about the Thundersnow. 

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