WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Thursday’s nor’easter featured a new term for many Rhode Islanders: thundersnow. For one Warwick family, they not only heard the thundersnow, but witnessed the damage.
According to Brad Smith, a bolt of lightning splintered a tree in his yard and blew a hole in his house.
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“I was sitting here working from home, watching the snow come down from here, and all of a sudden there was a bright flash and a huge boom and I saw what looked like toothpicks flying across the yard,” Smith recalled.
He called the fire department after he found a smoldering hole in his house and the electricity went out upstairs.
Firefighters then “peeked in the hole and looked at it and touched the wall just like we did and made sure there was nothing going on inside the wall,” Smith said.
According to Pinpoint Weather Meteorologist Pete Mangione, thundersnow usually occurs during periods of heavy snowfall — three to four inches an hour.
“You need a strong center of low pressure, usually a nor’easter here in Southern New England, and as that strengthens, it creates some really strong vertical motion and if the motion is strong enough we get thundersnow,” Mangione explained.
Thunderstorms are common in the summer because the warm air rises on its own. In the winter, the nor’easter itself helps create the event.
No one was injured by the thundersnow in Warwick, but Smith said the family is disappointed that the remains of the tree will have to be cut down.
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