The Northeast has definitely experienced some intense weather this spring and a few weeks ago, a massive storm grew miles above the Big Apple. The energy it created gave birth to thunder storms during a major snow event.
On March 7, first New York City and then northern New Jersey, experienced thunder snow during a strong coastal front. In the process billions of ice crystals high up in the atmosphere moving at a frenetic pace due to the winds of the storm, began charging each other with electrical energy This rapid movement charges an area of the atmosphere, which in turn draws more ice crystals to it like a magnet.
“These little, tiny ice crystals are low-inertia, so they just kind of go with the strengthening field as it changes,” National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center forecaster Joey Picca told Live Science.
If you were to be lucky enough to be flying near the area where this was occurring, you would see the congregation of crystals with your bare eyes.
“People get really excited when they hear about thundersnow [the most obvious sign of the turning ice], because it’s out of the norm,” Picca told Live Science. “We don’t experience it every day or every month, even, at that. But with our observation capabilities, we do see some thundersnow from time to time with the stronger storm systems.”
The thunder snow derives from this massive collection of ice crystals.
When weather radars catch the signal from these formations, the results can be bizarre.
That massive act of alignment is visible to modern radar systems, and it’s strange-looking.
ICYMI: I spoke with @ScienzaPiccola about the physics of "depolarization" – a radar effect that happens when electrically-charged storms cause billions of ice crystals in the clouds to turn and point in the same direction. https://t.co/HmTg9UIfcX
— Rafi Letzter (@RafiLetzter) March 8, 2018
Live Science writes:
“Under normal circumstances, when the [radar] pulses bounce off cloud particles, meteorologists can measure how much vertical and horizontal energy has returned to determine the average shape of the individual particles they’re looking at.
“When those pulses pass through the long fields of electrically aligned crystals now floating over New York, they change the radar beam’s shape…
“The crystals shunt the waves from one plane to another, making it look like most or all of the energy was along just one of their two-dimensional wave’s axes. Because the beams go from two poles to one, meteorologists call the effect depolarization.”
Check out this depolarization streak over NYC — probably the most prominent I've seen yet. No wonder there's been thundersnow reported at both LGA and EWR. #njwx #nywx #nycwx pic.twitter.com/ePgMk8zf92
— Jacob Carlin (@imjacobnotjames) March 7, 2018
It is, by all accounts, an impressive display by Mother Nature.
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