Tornadoes In/Near Snowstorms-Possible?

Hey, given what a wacky hurricane season it's been, this should prove nothing's out of the question. :wink:

Obviously, what I'm talking about is an E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y rare event, if it's happened at all. Have there been instances where tornadoes (obviously weak ones) would occur during thundersnow events?

If so-where and when?
 
I have heard of something like this happening in Oklahoma in winter 1975...wouldn't know exactly when. Altus, OK was hit by a tornado. I heard about this from Gary England's book Weathering the Storm-Tornadoes, Television and Turmoil:

It was extremely unusual. Temperatures were still in the forties, snow was beginning to fall, and tornadoes were tearing through the cold night air. In meteorology, it is wise to expect the unexpected.
 
I've 'heard' of such an event before as well....when I was about 10 I read an article in a book, that was found in an old abandoned library, in SE TN. It said they are possible, but not likely to ever happen. It had one recorded event, I beleive.
 
I remember the January, 1975 event well. There were tornadoes in far southwest Oklahoma and some evidence into the south central part of the State. What is unknown is the exact conditions at the time of the tornado. Yes, it was certainly snowing within an hour after the tornado, but I doubt it was snowing at the time and location of the tornado.

The tops were high enough we could see them on a converted aircraft radar from Wichita -- a very unusual winter event.

Mike
 
The great Woodward tornado outbreak, which spun a path from just NW of Pampa, TX to near Kingman, KS, evidently had snowfall just in it's wake around Woodward, OK.

Important to disgtinguish between an event where snow is part of the overall system producing the tornado vs. snowfall within the same cell as the tornado. Regarding the former, there have been ample examples. Regarding the latter, I know of no such example and would be extremely surprised if there were any documented.
 
A tornado passing over snow already on the ground from a previous winter storm might be in the realm of possibility. It would take something like an unseasonably northward-protruding warm sector ahead of a strong surface low (IE a 11/10/02-like event) to suddenly overrun the swath of a major snowstorm from a few days prior. If 1.) the snow on the ground was deep enough to not completely melt away during the warm temps, and 2.) if the setup was strong enough to compensate for limited heating due to reflective snow-covered ground, you might get true 'snownadoes'. The damage path from the air would look impressive.

February 2003 in OH/KY/WV was a good example that came close (in a relative sense) to doing this. We had a big winter storm event starting with heavy sleet/snow on the 16th, followed by a damaging ice storm on the 19th. On the 20th, temps began warming into the 70s, and on the 22nd, severe thunderstorms moved through with damaging winds and hail. There were still piles of plowed snow on the ground along roads and in parking lots when frequent CGs were crashing down all around. To top it off, the morning after the storms (the 23rd) it was snowing again.

http://wvlightning.com/2003/feb22cg.shtml

If we'd have had more snow beforehand, I would have had a few lightning shots with snow in the scene.
 
From last winter, a blizzard warning and severe thunderstorm warning in the same county. A tornado was reported west of Goodland, meanwhile, blizzard conditions were ongoing near CO/KS border (20 or so mile difference)...


BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PUEBLO CO
114 PM MDT SUN APR 10 2005

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PUEBLO HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
WESTERN PROWERS COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST COLORADO

* UNTIL 215 PM MDT.

* AT 113 PM MDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR SHOWED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL. THIS STORM WAS CENTERED 17 MILES SOUTH OF LAMAR...AND WAS MOVING NORTH AT 15 MPH.

* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL REMAIN OVER MAINLY RURAL AREAS OF WESTERN PROWERS COUNTY.

IF POSSIBLE...WITHOUT RISKING YOUR SAFETY...PROTECT PROPERTY BEFORE THE WEATHER HITS. GET IN A STURDY STRUCTURE AND AWAY FROM WINDOWS. AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR...OR A BASEMENT CAN OFFER THE BEST PROTECTION.


---


THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST COLORADO.

...A BLIZZARD WARNING IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM MDT MONDAY FOR THE INTERSTATE 25 CORRIDOR FROM MONUMENT TO RATON PASS. THIS
BLIZZARD WARNING INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING CITIES OF COLORADO SPRINGS...PUEBLO...WALSENBURG AND TRINIDAD.

THUNDER WITH LIGHT TO MODERATE SNOW AND SLEET WILL CONTINUE THROUGH 3 PM MDT (4 PM CDT). FREQUENT LIGHTNING IS ALSO OCCURRING. ACCORDING TO KIT CARSON COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT INTERSTATE 70 FROM BURLINGTON COLORADO...WEST TO DENVER IS CLOSED.

$$

04fierce.jpg
 
Found this in the April, 1987 edition of Storm Data:

6NW Bay Mills, Chippewa county, MI:
" A witness saw a funnel touch down briefly on the south shore of Whitefish Bay during a snow squall. A mobile home was unroofed and insulation sucked from its walls. The funnel lifted immediately, but was visible aloft for several minutes." (F0, 0.1 mile path, 10yds wide, 13:45EST)

Rob
 
Found this in the April, 1987 edition of Storm Data:

6NW Bay Mills, Chippewa county, MI:
" A witness saw a funnel touch down briefly on the south shore of Whitefish Bay during a snow squall. A mobile home was unroofed and insulation sucked from its walls. The funnel lifted immediately, but was visible aloft for several minutes." (F0, 0.1 mile path, 10yds wide, 13:45EST)

Rob

I don't know if that would count, because it would have been likely a waterspout that moved onshore, not a tornado in the sense that everyone is referring to, such as ones spawned from thunderstorms/supercells.
 
Found this in the April, 1987 edition of Storm Data:

6NW Bay Mills, Chippewa county, MI:
" A witness saw a funnel touch down briefly on the south shore of Whitefish Bay during a snow squall. A mobile home was unroofed and insulation sucked from its walls. The funnel lifted immediately, but was visible aloft for several minutes." (F0, 0.1 mile path, 10yds wide, 13:45EST)

Rob

I don't know if that would count, because it would have been likely a waterspout that moved onshore, not a tornado in the sense that everyone is referring to, such as ones spawned from thunderstorms/supercells.

I'm not sure, but once a waterspout moves over land and does damage, it's considered a tornado... But unless it was induced be a mesocyclone, it wouldn't last long and would be pretty week (the F0 rating, for example). In this case, it was obviously a tornado because it was given an F-scale rating, width, track length, etc..
 
Found this in the April, 1987 edition of Storm Data:

6NW Bay Mills, Chippewa county, MI:
" A witness saw a funnel touch down briefly on the south shore of Whitefish Bay during a snow squall. A mobile home was unroofed and insulation sucked from its walls. The funnel lifted immediately, but was visible aloft for several minutes." (F0, 0.1 mile path, 10yds wide, 13:45EST)

Rob

I don't know if that would count, because it would have been likely a waterspout that moved onshore, not a tornado in the sense that everyone is referring to, such as ones spawned from thunderstorms/supercells.

I'm not sure, but once a waterspout moves over land and does damage, it's considered a tornado... But unless it was induced be a mesocyclone, it wouldn't last long and would be pretty week (the F0 rating, for example). In this case, it was obviously a tornado because it was given an F-scale rating, width, track length, etc..

What i was referring to when i said it wouldn't count was Saul Trabal question about tornadoes in snow producing storms. Sure, a waterspout produced by a LES squall, band, whatever that moves onshore and produces damage is a tornado, but its not a Meso. produced tornado, which i assume everyone is talking about in this thread, a meso produced tornado which the parent storm also produces snow.
 
I don't think lapse rates could be steep enough if the near-surface temp was close to freezing, permitting snowfall. That would be a crazy-cold updraft. Notorious lake effect waterspouts of lore are about as close as it can get.
 
My first waterspout was during a snow event in Oswego NY in 1983. The spout was about 1-2 miles offshore, and we were receiving light snow. Even got a picture, but I don't have it digitally scanned to share at the moment.
 
I'm not sure, but once a waterspout moves over land and does damage, it's considered a tornado

Yes, many of the damaging tornadoes in NZ start as waterspouts and drift in off the sea with damage upto F2. It must be possible to get a mesocyclonic waterspout although most of them are non mesocyclonic.
 
A tornado passing over snow already on the ground from a previous winter storm might be in the realm of possibility. It would take something like an unseasonably northward-protruding warm sector ahead of a strong surface low (IE a 11/10/02-like event) to suddenly overrun the swath of a major snowstorm from a few days prior. If 1.) the snow on the ground was deep enough to not completely melt away during the warm temps, and 2.) if the setup was strong enough to compensate for limited heating due to reflective snow-covered ground.

I witnessed one such incident in late February in the late 1980’s in Eastern IA. I forget the exact year/date. The day started out with dense fog and temperatures around 40F with a thick snow cover on seasonably cold ground. The warm front pushed through early in the afternoon, partially clearing skies and allowing for temperatures and dewpoints to briefly shoot up into the low-60’s before storms and embedded weak supercells along a trailing cold front approached the area. I watched a weak (F0) tornado which persisted for at least 5 minutes until it became rain-wrapped, from a distance of a few miles. Damage was minor, mainly roof damage to a couple of structure that took a direct hit. Nevertheless, there was a partial snow cover on the ground while this event took place - bill
 
Yes it can definitely happen, as the others have said. I'll never forget one time when I was younger (I'd say in the late '90's) I was watching the Weather Channel, and Jim Cantore was broadcasting live for some snow event. Then in the background there was a clap of thunder and he freaked out...he was like "whoaaa was that THUNDER??? I didn't know that could happen!" or something to that effect.
 
So you guys are looking for "extreme" winter weather? I am expecting to see the return of historic snow falls from the past around these parts this year... in the 40's a train was burried by a pretty big blizzard in Saskatchewan.

Our first snowfall of the year comes usually in September sometime, however due to the fantasic hurricane season in the gulf, we have been experiencing some really boring weather this ""autumn"" (we are going to change the names of our seasons soon...) , anyhoo, a WINTER STORM WARNING is now up and I expect our first snowfall any minute here in Saskatoon. Listen to all the car accidents on my scanner feed when the freezing rain hits morning rush hour! Hopefully I won't be late for school...

Jared Mysko
Graphic Design/New Media Production
saskatoonscanner.com
 
I came across a passage in the book Extreme Weather by Christopher C. Burt that deals with the subject of snow tornadoes. It's located on page 101 if anyone else owns this.

Although there are no confirmed reports of a tornado actually forming in a snowstorm, occasionally they have traveled over snow covered fields and forests and sucked the snow into their vortices, giving them the appearance of the proverbial white tornado of Top Job fame. Such was the case in Utah on December 2, 1970, when a twister moved across the Timpanogas Divide, where a snow cover of some 38\" had accumulated. The tornado was powerful enough to snap trees one foot in diameter and suck snow over a thousand feet high into its funnel. This gave it a solid white appearance.
 
I seem to remember a story of a very damaging mini sup that formed in Britain. I think it produced a mid-range tornado, and the air temperature was cold enough to produce some snow in the precip shaft of the storm.

This has got to still be in the archives, but I have no idea where to look, that stuff is uncategorized. Help me?
 
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