SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – Summer may have ended more than a month ago, but Syracuse experienced some out of season thunderstorms Monday evening.
Picture Courtesy: Grant deBruin
Although not very warm or humid, the air aloft over us was primed just enough and an approaching cold front helped to provide the lift to cause the storms.
The storms initially formed over a slightly warmer than normal Lake Ontario with an average temperature of 50 degrees which may have played a part as well.
But why was the thunder so loud last night?
It has a lot to do with the way the atmosphere was set up.
Typically, the air temperature gets cooler as you go up in height in the lower atmosphere. During the warm season, that is what allows the updrafts that create the showers and storms.
Last night, however, in the lower few hundred feet of the atmosphere air temperatures actually rose which caused a temperature ‘inversion.’ That created a cap in the lower atmosphere, kind of like a lid on a pot on a stove. When lightning struck near the ground, instead of rising in the lower atmosphere thunder bounced off the inversion and back to the ground. That is why the lightning was so loud.
Because this sound repeated the cycle of bouncing off the inversion then off the ground and back up repeatedly that made the thunder last longer and sound like it was ‘rolling’ through the atmosphere.
T-storms are rare in Syracuse during the month of November, happening on average about once every three years. The last report of a t-storm in November in Syracuse came back in 2017.