Blowing snow during a blizzard to reduce visibility.Credit: NOAA national Weather company images through Ben Jacquot


Snow whirling approximately in wind blowing faster than highway speed borders makes the whole world look white. Imagine eye so deep that second graders can’t check out over the top of it. The wind and the eye may cause a power outage and also collapse roofs. It is what you can expect indigenous a blizzard.

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What is a Blizzard?

The nationwide Weather company defines a blizzard together a storm with large amounts of snow or blowing snow, winds higher than 35 mph (56 kph), and visibility of less than ¼ mile (0.4 km) for at least three hours. Some blizzards, dubbed ground blizzards, have no falling snow. Instead, snow that had actually fallen before the blizzard is blown about or drifts in a means to create these conditions.

Blizzard problems usually construct up on the northwest next of a powerful storm system. The storm to produce ample eye while solid winds develop because of a difference in pressure in between the low press of the storm and the high pressure beyond the storm.

Conditions throughout a blizzard have the right to be severe. Travel becomes dangerous when the blow snow causes whiteout conditions and also sky and also ground look at white. Roads have the right to be partly or totally blocked through snowdrifts – piles of snow developed by the wind. Countless times cold temperatures that can cause frostbite or hypothermia are part of a blizzard and also can last for days after ~ the storm has actually ended.

Where perform Blizzards Occur?

In the united States, blizzards are common in the top Midwest and also the great Plains but occur in most areas of the country except for the Gulf Coast and the California coast. Blizzards have the right to occur almost everywhere the world, even in the tropics whereby it is cold on high altitude mountaintops.

What a Blizzard Needs

Three points are essential to do a big snowstorm or blizzard:

1. Cold wait (below freezing) is required to make snow.For eye to autumn to the ground, the temperature should be cold both increase in the clouds whereby snowflakes form, and down in ~ ground level. If the air near ground level is too warm, the snow will melt on its way down, changing to rain or freezing rain.

2. Moisture is necessary to form clouds and precipitation. Moisture in the wait is called water vapor. Air blowing across a body of water, such together a large lake or the ocean, is fantastic source that water vapor. As wind move air end the water, part water evaporates from the surface, putting vapor into the air. This is exactly how “lake impact snowstorms” and “Nor’easters” pick up so lot moisture. However, cold air is not able to organize much water vapor. In fact, an extremely cold wait does not make very much snow.

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3. Moist air needs to rise, over very cold air, making clouds and snow. There are two ways that moist air could rise over cold air. Winds traction cold air toward the equator native the poles and also bring warmer, moist air toward the poles indigenous the equator. When warm air and cold air are brought together, a former is formed and snow deserve to form. Warmth air can additionally rise to type clouds and also blizzard snows together it operation up a mountainside.