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Does it really snow 10 days after we hear thunder?


On Thursday morning we had thunderstorms roll through the viewing area, and immediately the questions starting flying. On Twitter, Facebook, and email folks started asking "Does that mean it's going to snow 10 days from now?"

This is a question I've been asked every year since I've been here, and I wondered if there was any truth to this weather saying or was it just an old wives' tale. So, I decided to do some research.

I looked the hourly weather records for the past 50 years at RDU. I know, you might be saying, "Why RDU? That's not in my neighborhood!" Well, RDU has one of the most complete sets of weather records in the viewing area, and I knew I would find the data there.

Next, I logged on to the NCDC to find the data I needed.

Finally, they sent me the data. By the way, to get the hourly data, and accompanying hourly remarks, you need to download a .pdf file with 33,388 pages. Whew, that's a big PDF!

Then the crack ABC11 Weather Research team (my wife & I) combed through the data. First, we found every day snow was reported at RDU, with at least a trace or more. The approximate total was 382 days. I say approximate because my eyes were starting to cross looking at that PDF file.

Out of those 382 days, just under half of them (176) had some type of precipitation fall 10 days before. Then I went back to the weather observations and looked to see if thunderstorms were reported on those days. Only 11 times did it thunder 10 days before the snowflakes flew. To put that in a percentage, 97.1 percent of the time when we get snow, it does NOT thunder 10 days before.

As you look at that number, some of you might be thinking 2.9 percent of the time it DOES snow 10 days later! And you would be right. As Lloyd said in 'Dumb, & Dumber', "So you're telling me there's a chance!"

There's always a chance, but it is extremely low.

In the future, we could expand our research. We would look at a few other stations, like Fayetteville. My guess is that percentage would be lower, because they get less snow, but it's just a guess. Maybe I'll look at that next winter. For now, my old eyes need some rest...

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