Do winter thunderstorms predict a snowstorm a week later?

Weather

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Storms hammered central North Carolina Sunday night. There was thunder still into Monday evening.

It has been said over the years that winter thunderstorms foretell snow.

“If there is thunder in winter, it will snow in seven days,” the Farmer’s Almanac said.

Some, like Billy Ellenberger of Louisburg, are counting down the seven days.

“I have a little calendar and I’m marking the days off until snow,” Ellenberger said.

“Fingers crossed and we get a nice big blizzard. The beauty of North Carolina is it snows, and a couple of days later it melts,” said his mom, Rose Ellenberger.

Sean Jasrani, of Raleigh, was headed for a haircut when he offered his prediction.

“I think there’s a 93-percent chance that we’ll get snow within a week. Absolutely,” he said.

Moses Green, of Raleigh, grew up in Pitt County. He said he’s changed his view on the folklore about thunderstorms and snowstorms.

“I’ve become a lot more scientific in my approach to things like that, and I don’t really believe it per se,” he said. “I tend to listen to what the weatherperson says.”

From a scientific standpoint, winter thunderstorms usually mean cold air is clashing with warm air. This usually occurs when a strong cold front is moving through. Behind the front, in the colder air, any moisture from an incoming weather system could conceivably bring snow. However, thinking the system will come in exactly seven days is a stretch.

However, how about a looser standard? Looking back in the Triangle over the last 30 years and checking to see if snow fell within a week or so after a winter thunderstorm brought at least a chance for snow.

After winter thunder, it snowed within a week or so less than one in five times, which is not quite 20 percent. In forecasting terms, that’s a “slight chance.”

It’s hard to believe a “slight chance” this year with the weather with temperatures in the 60s and even 70s on Wednesday. However, it’s a little better than other snow predicting folklore from the Farmers Almanac.

Other predictions include the number of fogs in August telling the number of snows in winter, or the number of nuts squirrels collect in the fall determining how much snow will come in the winter.

Of course, central North Carolina’s last snowstorm was December 2018, so the area may be due for one.

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