Snow blizzard is nothing more than a very heavy snowfall that typically lasts at least a three hours, severely restricting visibility. Blizzard snowstorm is also often accompanied by intensely strong winds – in most cases 35 mph (56 km/h) or more. If those condition lasts shorter or are weaker they are not considered to be a blizzard, but instead a simple snowstorm.
There are two main types of blizzards: a regular one and a ground blizzard. Ground blizzard is characterized as a blizzard weather condition under which there’s no snowfall, but instead the snow is lifted from the ground by the strong winds. Even though there’s no constant precipitation during ground blizzard, the harsh blizzard conditions can still create a danger for humans, vehicles and aircrafts.
How are blizzards formed?
Formation of the blizzard is very similar to the formation of a regular snowstorm. What makes a blizzard are three things: there needs to be a lot of very cold air (below the freezing point) close to the surface of the earth, the warm air needs to move above the cold air (possibly due to a strong wind) and both masses of air needs to carry a lot of water vapor. If all of the forces are strong enough and will last for at least three hours, the storm will be considered a blizzard.
Blizzard forecast can be predicted as any other weather forecast – and if blizzard is expected to come, the National Weather Service can issue a blizzard warning. How often do blizzards occur is mostly dependent on the region and season. In the United States, blizzards are pretty common occurrence in the Great Plains and upper Midwest. As for how are blizzards measured – it can be determined by measuring the strength of its key components: speed of wind, duration period and limitation of visibility.
What happens during a blizzard?
Effects of blizzards are easy to predict if we know how blizzards are formed. As they severely limit our visibility, they tend to make traveling very hazardous, if not entirely impossible. Temperature below freezing point and heavy snowfalls are also the cause of many deaths, especially because the harsh conditions tend to last for hours, if not days. It is highly recommendable for people to stay in homes, as going out unprepared can result in frostbites and hypothermia.
Blizzard vs snowstorm
Although terms snowstorm and blizzards seem almost interchangeable, there are differences allowing us to differentiate them. First of all, snowstorms typically include a large amount of snowfall in a relatively short period of time, while blizzard does not require the snowfall at all, but lasts for an extended period of time. Also to create a blizzard the wind speed of at least 35 mph (56 km/h) is required, while during a snowstorm can be little to no wind.