Deafening “thundersnow” was so loud in the skies over Edinburgh on Thursday night it prompted a surge of calls to police from locals who feared they had heard bombs going off or a sonic boom.
Police Scotland said they had received several calls overnight about possible “explosions” but reassured residents it was in fact an unusual weather phenomenon known as “thundersnow”.
The Met Office said that when thunderstorms form in wintry conditions they can sometimes lead to heavy downpours of snow.
This can only happen in a brief window during the coldest months of the year, but when it happens at night it can be spectacular as lightning flashes reflect off the snow, making them appear significantly brighter than usual.
Yet, despite the loud booms which woke up many sleeping in Edinburgh, snow actually dampens the sound of thunder, the Met Office added.
“While the thunder from a typical thunderstorm might be heard many miles away, the thunder during a thundersnow event will only be heard if you are within two to three miles of the lightning.”
The claps of thunder heard over the Scottish capital, however, were so loud they set off car alarms, terrified pet animals and were even picked up by one resident’s sleep recording app.
The snowfall has also led to some travel disruption after the Queensferry Crossing was closed for several hours because of falling ice from the bridge. Other major roads also shut down because of dangerous conditions.
ScotRail warned passengers to check before leaving home as many railway routes had also been hit by the wintry conditions.
Temperatures overnight dropped to their lowest levels for the winter so far, with -9.6C recorded in Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands.
The Met Office issued yellow warnings for snow covering much of Scotland on Friday morning, warning as much as 20cm could be seen at higher elevations.
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