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'Potent storm cell' captured over Alberta as thundersnow strikes twice

Wednesday, February 24th 2021, 6:27 am - Another round of thundersnow developed in southern Alberta Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by the scary-looking appearance of shelf clouds as the band of snow pushed through.

Alberta has seen plenty of wild weather this week, from powerful winds and mild spring-time temperatures, to two rounds of thundersnow, with the latest pushing through Tuesday afternoon across southern sections.

The rare winter phenomenon that popped up Tuesday was greeted with the appearance of shelf clouds in cities such as Calgary -- a sight normally associated with warmer-weather thunderstorms, rather than with these winter events.

Just like after the first round Monday night, social media erupted with videos and photos of the wintertime thunder and lightning on Tuesday, often referred to as thundersnow. The unique atmospheric setup and clashing air masses created just the right conditions for lightning to strike, all while heavy snow was falling at the same time.


"If temperatures become very cold aloft, above relatively warmer and moist conditions below, ample instability can develop that permits the growth of vigourous updrafts that are strong enough to cause charge separation within convective clouds, which can then lead to lightning flashes," explains The Weather Network's Kyle Brittain.

Interesting fact: Wintertime lightning is usually positive in polarity, and is especially fond of tall buildings, radio towers, and hilltops.

The thundersnow dissipated through the evening hours Tuesday, as the band of snow shifted south of the border, leaving a much more stable atmosphere across the region for Wednesday. A cold front slicing through on Thursday will send the balmy double-digit highs tumbling once again.

Plenty of visuals of these rounds of thundersnows in Alberta have surfaced on social media. Below is a selection of what's being circulated.

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