Friday, February 26, 2021
Home Weather When is a Winter Storm Considered a Blizzard?

When is a Winter Storm Considered a Blizzard?

Over the years, the time period “blizzard” as been used pretty loosely by many. For the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, it appears as if any time a coastal storm drops over a foot, some wish to name it the “Blizzard of (insert date here)”. In actuality, the quantity of snow that accumulates would not issue into whether or not a storm is deemed a blizzard. So what constitues a blizzard? The National Weather Service defines it as, “Sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 mph or more, accompanied by falling and/or blowing snow which frequently reduces visibility to less than 1/4 mile for three or more hours.”


Meteosat-3 Infrared Satellite picture of the 93 Superstorm. Notice the textbook “comma” form, indicating an intense low strain system. Courtesy https://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/satellite-blog/archives/12481

So actually, snow would not even must be falling for blizzard standards to be met! Blowing snow from the bottom might be sufficient if winds surpass thresholds and visibility is low sufficient for the three-plus hour period. Even although floor blizzards can occur, snow fallingly closely definitely helps to acheive the lofty standing. So what are some memorable storms that reached blizzard circumstances? Well the “Superstorm of 93” met the standards in lots of locations as heavy snow and gusty winds flew from north Georgia by way of northern New England. Speaking of New England, the Blizzard of ’78 did the job with excessive winds…gusts of 85 – 100 mph! The February 2013 winter storm, dubbed “Nemo”, additionally reached blizzard circumstances in spots, which included 4″+ per hour snowfall rates in portions of Connecticut. Interestingly,”The Blizzard of ’96”, solely had round two observing websites that reached blizzard standards (whatever the 24+ inches of widespread snow). Those stations had been Trenton-Mercer Airport and Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey. 

So subsequent time you’re listening to about a blizzard, remember to verify the definition, as a result of the wind and visibility thresholds are a bit tougher to hit than you assume!

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