Did you miss it? The snow squall in Philly looked really intense

First the alert hit people’s phones. Then the weather itself showed up — and it was fascinating to watch.

phillysnowsquall-cityhall-benfranklinbridge-crop
Matt Goldberg (@MAGUSTUS)
danya

A snow squall rolled through the Philly area around 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, part of a line of squalls advancing across the Northeastern U.S. Some folks in the region had received a false alarm alert earlier in the day, but the lunchtime event turned out to be the real deal.

You can think of these mini blizzards, which usually last 30 minutes or less, as the winter equivalent of summer thunderstorms.

They’re alert-worthy because of the quickness with which they occur — if you’re driving, a sudden whiteout or slippery roadway can present real danger.

What causes them? Squalls happen when warmer air on the ground rises and hits a colder front coming through. First a towering mass of clouds forms, like the foam on an ocean wave hitting the shore. Then a breaking point is reached, and precipitation begins to shower down among rapidly swirling winds.

In Philadelphia on Wednesday, partly sunny skies with lots of blue turned ominously dark, and within minutes, blasts of flakes rushed through the air. There wasn’t enough to see any accumulation on sidewalks, but the weather event sure did produce some awesome visuals.

If you missed it, were inside without a view, or just want to relive the experience, check out these nine Philly squall videos posted to social media.

Horror movie worthy — coming right atcha.

Did Michael Bay direct this one?

Splitting one Comcast tower from the other.

The inside view.

Philly skyline: now you see it, now you don’t.

Sometimes being low to the ground is a good thing.

City Hall’s tower goes from sunlit-yellow to whited-out.

It got pretty serious out there.

Look, when you’re wearing shorts on Jan. 8, you kinda get what you deserve.

Support our coverage in these very weird times

As the coronavirus spreads through our communities, local reporting is critical. Our newsroom runs on member support — if you value our updates, make a donation today.

Let's stick together in these weird times

As the coronavirus spreads through our communities, local reporting is critical. Our newsroom runs on reader support — if you value our updates, consider making a donation today.

Lock in your support

Reader support powers our local pandemic reporting. A monthly membership helps lock it in.

Can we count on you as a Billy Penn sustainer?

Winning the local journalism game

Thank you: Member support powers our newsroom.

Know someone else who might want our daily COVID updates? Invite them to sign up for our free morning newsletter.