2014-12-13 Reports: CO Winter Thunderstorm

I intercepted a winter thunderstorm producing mainly graupel but also small amounts of hail and ordinary snow near my home in Pagosa Springs. Some of the lightning was pretty spectacular along the leading edge:

A full report, with video and another picture, can be seen at:


After a brief lull behind the thunderstorm, another band of precipitation moved in and quickly became all snow. The snow was wet and electrically charged, causing it to cling to trees, branches, wires, etc. - and making for a winter wonderland the next day. It was perhaps best at sunset, when the sun emerged under the west edge of the cloud deck:

Oct 14, 2013
Ardmore, OK
Great job . Thinking about the Lightning we would get on the snow squalls down wind of Lake Michigan it was never photogenic. You picture is a great piece of art! Great job

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks, everyone. I have come to learn that the Rocky Mountains and nearby areas in Colorado and northern New Mexico are quite a hotspot for thundersnow. Because of the high altitude, you often get graupel or snow with storms that might produce rain at lower altitudes. Often the storms are quite localized, producing isolated heavy bursts of graupel and/or snow, and perhaps for that reason the lightning can be more visible than with winter thunderstorms in other parts of the country. That said, the lightning with Saturday's storm was particularly impressive - one of my best lightning photography outings of 2014! I have learned to be alert to the weather and ready to go when conditions are favorable for such storms. They seem to occur most often in November and December, and then again in March and April and even sometimes into May. In the heart of the winter, it is usually a little too cold for thunderstorms, so they don't happen as often then.