Check it out:
The Image shows GR3's confirmation of what I saw/heard. The bolt is just east of my spotter network Icon.
All winter I have made mention that the Chicagoland area typically sees its first thunderstorms near the end of February. I thought this year would be different with this ultra boring blocking pattern we've been stuck in. Nope. For once Lake Michigan made me proud and strengthened a meso low which prompted the development of a really intense lake effect snow band. Not only did it have 2"/hr snowfall rates but yes, it had thunder and lightning!
For awhile I doubted such a phenomenon was even possible, Ive read it is, and people smarter than me have told me it is...but seeing really is believing. Ive always found lake effect snow to be more fascinating than "system snow." The flakes are generally really big and can pile up at incredible rates. The bands are very narrow and intense. Here in Chicago though we live on the side of the lake that doesn't experience it too often, so the really intense events aren't all that common. We'll get a few events a year, but its usually northern IN and southwestern MI that bear the brunt of this beast.
I was lucky enough to witness 2 flashes of lightning, the second time I was able to get my window open in time to hear the thunder. So this will go down as the first thunderstorm of 2010, surely not the way I expected it, but the timing is on schedule. Last years first thunderstorms occurred on February 26th, so already 2010 is ahead of 2009!
Perhaps I'm more giddy than I should be...but I love thunder and I love lightning. The two most basic elements of a storm are enough to make me smile. It didn't satisfy my need for a good storm, but up until now it has been since October 10th since I last saw lightning and heard thunder. I know because I keep a general thunderstorm log which I then post to my site at the end of the year.
Spring is not far, the GFS has finally been showing signs of a pattern change around March 7th and we may see some general storms with a system then. No big severe outbreaks yet, but at this point all I want is general storms and some milder temps. Today is about as close as winter can get to remind me that it is almost over and my time of the year is almost here.
Hopefully my next post will be about upcoming chase plans!