How Do Meteorologists Track Blizzards?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 25, 2020 2:07:39 PM ET

Meteorologists track blizzards with sophisticated computer models that receive data from satellites, according to These computer models provide tracking data on the intensity and direction of a blizzard. The accuracy of computer blizzard predictions is approximately 85 percent.

Another tool that is used to predict heavy storms such as blizzards is a weather balloon. According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, these balloons are released into the air to measure atmospheric conditions such as wind pressure, wind direction, wind speed and temperature. A meteorologist also considers typical weather patterns from the past when coming up with predictions. Storms often have patterns of behavior that repeat. For example, a major blizzard that happened 10 years ago may provide clues about a current blizzard with the same pattern.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a severe winter storm that lasts at least 3 hours, with lots of snow, visibility at less than one-quarter mile and high winds at 35 or more miles per hour. Meteorologists rate blizzards from mild to severe when reporting to the public. A winter storm watch refers to a developing blizzard, and a winter storm warning indicates dangerous conditions.