What Are the Characteristics of a Blizzard?

Blizzards are classified as conditions that prevail for three hours or more and include frequent gusts, or sustained winds, of up to 35 miles per hour, along with considerable amounts of blowing or falling snow. These conditions can greatly reduce visibility, sometimes to less than a quarter of a mile.

While the dangers associated with winter weather vary across the country, most Americans are likely to experience winter weather regarded as severe at some point. Winter storms in America range from moderate snowfall to blizzards that are accompanied by wind driven, blinding snow that lasts for a number of days. Most often, these storms are characterized by extremely low temperatures, along with freezing rain, ice, sleet, and strong winds. The main concern around winter storms is the weather’s ability to disrupt or knock out power, communication and heat services to residential and commercial areas.

In extremely bad weather, blizzards can last for many days. The extreme cold conditions combined with heavy snowfall have been known to immobilize entire regions, isolating the inhabitants and disrupting essential services. A blizzard warning is issued when frequent or sustained winds exceed 35 miles per hour and are accompanied by snowfall that severely reduces visibility, causing dangerous driving conditions.