Unusual February thunderstorms caused by abnormal temperatures

Cooler temperatures followed the storms

Photo Courtesy: ReportIt submission

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The chance of having a February thunderstorm is rare, but after seeing the perfect ingredients we saw Saturday, a winter thunderstorm is not out of the question, especially since we’ve been feeling like spring lately.

Photos: Storm damage in Conway

The first ingredient for thunderstorms in general is warm temperatures. On both Friday and Saturday, temperatures were in the 70s, which is a good 30 degrees above our average high temperature for this time of the year. Winds were coming up from the south, helping to bring in this mild air.

The next ingredient was sunshine during the day on Saturday, which helped to warm the atmosphere and make it unstable, like we usually see in the summertime. The problem leading up to Saturday’s storm was that we didn’t see a cooldown when the sun set around 5:35PM, at which point temperatures were still in the 60s.

Parts of western Massachusetts were in severe thunderstorm warning areas, but the heavy rain and wind were greater issues than the lightning. Most of our storm reports came from Franklin County, where places like Greenfield and Gill both saw wind damage from these storms. Rain totals ranged anywhere from 0.3” in Amherst to a little less than 1.5” in Great Barrington.

Cooler temperatures for western Massachusetts followed the storms.