Around 3:45 on February 27, a very abrupt, very dramatic weather change slammed the Seattle area. After a morning snowfall, the day seemed to be settling down—until suddenly the sky opened up and unleashed a mass of thunder, snow, and hail that subsided in many areas as quickly as it arrived.
The National Weather Service had predicted some pockets of snow for today, but admittedly, was very unsure about how everything would turn out: “It is not possible to predict exactly where those heavy showers would form, if they do. This is not a high confidence forecast overall.”
So what happened? An active Puget Sound Convergence Zone, which happens when northwest winds clash with the Olympic Mountains. Often this creates rain, but with strong winds and an unstable atmosphere, it can create any combination of the things that just happened in a 15 minute span: Snow, hail, thunder.
The centerpiece of thundersnow on many people’s Twitter feeds was lightning striking the Space Needle. A post on the Needle’s official Twitter showed the lightning striking the top.
A rare lightning strike at the Needle! Wild weather blowing through the city - stay safe, Seattle! pic.twitter.com/19bpMs97FO— Space Needle (@space_needle) February 27, 2017
Twitter user Mark D. Lim posted a slowed-down video with more of a full view of both the lightning and the Needle.
But, as with so many things, the Space Needle view alone would sell Seattle short. KOMO’s Elisa Jaffe captured the abrupt burst of wind and hail.
Another video from Twitter user @zyfrom513 captures a thunderclap and a clearly spooked murder of crows.