COLORADO – The word “blizzard” has been thrown around a lot this week, but what exactly does that mean? We hear that term used to describe really intense snow all the time, but there are criteria for a storm to be considered a blizzard. A brief whiteout outside your window doesn’t count. Sorry!
The definition of a blizzard requires three important things:
- Falling or blowing snow
- Winds over 35 mph
- Visibility under 1/4 of a mile
These conditions must exist for at least 3 hours for it to be a true blizzard.
The amount of snow that falls during a blizzard actually doesn’t matter. When it is all said and done there could be less than 1″ of snow or over 1′ of snow and it is still a blizzard as long as the wind and visibility requirements are met.
Those criteria aren’t met very often, but they cause a lot of issues when they do. Areas with blizzard warnings will have treacherous travel conditions throughout the day with whiteout conditions and blowing and drifting snow. Hunker down and stay safe!