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Thundersnow confirmed in downtown Chicago, Tom Skilling says

February 17, 2014|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

The snow storm moving through Chicago is about to get loud. 

WGN Meteorologist Tom Skilling told RedEye on Monday that the storm has already produced "thundersnow," or lightning in the air during a snow event, around Chicago, including in the Loop. 

Skilling also said thundersnow has been reported in Elmhurst, Bolingbrook, Galesburg and Champaign. 

What's thundersnow besides being lightning in a snowstorm? Skilling explained that the lightning produced during thundersnow is more likely to be positively charged, meaning it's more likely to damage property or cause injury if a strike occurs. Skilling said thundersnow lightning typically lasts longer and is more powerful than during a thunderstorm. 

But the occurrence is not all that uncommon, Skilling said. Lightning during snow happens frequently, but many times, it is difficult to see with heavy snowfalls. 

The heavy snow is expected to dump between 4 and 8 inches on the city and produce whiteout conditions during rush hour. 

For those attending RedEye, Chicagoist and Do312's Snowbrawl 2014 in Wicker Park tonight, Skilling also had the forecast. He said the worst of the conditions should be gone by 8 p.m., when the snowball fight kicks off. Additionally, conditions aren't ideal for a snowball fight. Skilling explained the current snow falling is a "14 to 1" snow, meaning it isn't perfect packing snow. 

"It's a little fluffier and a little drier than some other snows," he said. A 14-to-1 snow means 1 inch of water will produce 14 inches of snow. 

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