What is a blizzard?

Any time there are more than a few inches of snow, the term "blizzard" probably comes to mind. However, blizzards have a specific definition according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm with:

  • considerable falling or blowing snow 
  • winds in excess of 35 mph
  • visibility of less than 1/4 mile for at least 3 hours

If only two of these conditions are met, the service won't issue a blizzard warning, but it will issue a "winter storm" warning. Ground blizzards are also possible. This is when strong winds pick up snow that has already fallen, causing the limited visibility that's one of the essential elements of a blizzard.

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