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MU Weather Expert says Rare Occurrence of Winter Thunder and Lightning Likely with Next Round of Ice and Freezing Rain

Dec. 10, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan C. Daniels, 573-882-9144,
Anthony Lupo, 573-884-1638,

           COLUMBIA, Mo. - Over the weekend, winter storms hit much of the Midwest. Today, residents of the region are bracing for another round of snow, freezing rain and ice. Anthony Lupo, associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri, said these conditions are normal for this time of year, but hard to forecast. 

            “What’s very difficult is the precise location of freezing precipitation,” he said. “Those things happen in such narrow bands; 50 miles can be the difference between snow and freezing rain or just rain.”  

            The National Weather Service has posted ice storm warnings from north-central Texas into portions of western Illinois. Warnings extend to New Hampshire. A state of emergency has been declared in Missouri and thousands in the region are without electricity due to power lines snapping because of ice and falling tree branches.

            “It’s very widespread. These bands are orientated from southwest to northeast. They’ve very thin bands but long,” Lupo said. “It’s like a giant line across the continent. It’s fairly common to have boundaries like this with extremely warm air to the south and cold air to the north. We’re getting disturbances that move along because of this boundary. We’ve got shallow layers of cold air, which is allowing for the development of freezing rain and sleet.”
            In addition to freezing and extremely cold precipitation, Lupo said thunder and lightning are also very likely. On Saturday night, the rumble of thunder could be heard across mid-Missouri.
            Lupo is an expert on global climate change and severe weather in the Midwest. He earned his doctoral degree from Purdue University in 1995 and has done research at Purdue, the State University of New York-Albany and MU. He is a fellow in the Royal Meteorological Society and a member of the American Meteorology Society.

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