Blizzard Facts



Published: 26 May 2023

Winter blizzard

From snow-covered landscapes to mesmerizing white flurries, winter brings a certain charm and excitement. However, it also brings with it powerful and intriguing weather phenomena – blizzards. Blizzards are nature’s snow shows, but they are more than just a spectacle. They are fascinating, filled with science, and sometimes dangerous. Let’s dive into 20 facts about blizzards to understand them better.

Table of Contents

What is a Blizzard?

A blizzard is not just any snowstorm. It is a weather phenomenon that brings with it powerful winds, 35 miles per hour or more, and a significant amount of snowfall. But the defining characteristic of a blizzard is not just the wind speed or the snow accumulation; it is the prolonged period of intense snowfall and wind lasting for at least three hours.

A blizzard can engulf entire cities, shutting down roads, airports, and public transportation systems. It can make daily routines impossible and pose serious health risks to people caught outside. Despite its dangers, a blizzard can also be breathtakingly beautiful – a true winter wonderland.

The Name ‘Blizzard’

The term ‘blizzard’ is believed to have derived from the German word ‘blitzen,’ which means ‘to flash’. This name is said to be related to a blizzard’s sudden, fierce nature.

Blizzard vs. Snowstorm

Not every snowstorm is a blizzard. What sets blizzards apart are their high winds, reduced visibility, and long duration.


During a blizzard, visibility can be reduced to zero. Such a situation is often referred to as a whiteout. This can make traveling during a blizzard extremely dangerous.

The Role of Wind

Wind plays a crucial role in blizzards, as they cause snowdrifts and increase the chill factor. The stronger the wind, the more dangerous the blizzard becomes.

In the Middle of a Blizzard
Image from Flickr


One type of storm that often becomes a blizzard is a Nor’easter. These storms get their name from the direction of the wind and are notorious for affecting the East Coast of the United States.

The Great Blizzard of 1888

One of the most infamous blizzards in history is the Great Blizzard of 1888. It affected the United States’ northeastern states and dropped up to 50 inches of snow in some areas.

Blizzard of 1977

The Blizzard of 1977, which hit the Niagara region and Western New York, was particularly notable because it struck an area that had already been dealing with heavy snowfall, leading to extreme conditions.

Indoor Snow

Believe it or not, during a strong blizzard, it’s possible for snow to enter homes, even with the doors and windows closed. This is due to the high winds and the fine nature of the snow particles.

The Danger of Hypothermia and Frostbite

Blizzards can lead to dangerous health conditions like hypothermia and frostbite due to the extreme cold and wind chill factor. It’s important to stay warm and protected if caught in a blizzard.

Blizzard Aftermath
Image from Flickr

Animals and Blizzards

Many animals have adapted to survive blizzards. For example, some birds fluff up their feathers to create air pockets for insulation.

The Science of Snowflakes

Snowflakes, the stars of the blizzard show, are intricate ice crystals that form in clouds due to subfreezing temperatures, moisture, and atmospheric pressure.

Blizzard Predictions

Meteorologists use advanced technology to predict blizzards and issue warnings. This allows people to prepare and stay safe during blizzards.

Economic Impact

Blizzards can have a substantial economic impact. They often cause business closures, infrastructure damage, and high costs for snow removal and repairs.

Record-Breaking Blizzards

The world’s longest-lasting blizzard occurred in Alaska in 1952, lasting for an incredible 79 days.

Blizzard Through a Window
Image from Flickr

Snowfall Rates

In a severe blizzard, snowfall rates can exceed 4 inches per hour, quickly creating dangerous conditions and significant snow accumulation.

The Sound of a Blizzard

A blizzard isn’t silent. The high winds create a howling sound, and the falling and blowing snow can create a quiet hissing or whispering noise.

Power Outages

Blizzards often lead to power outages due to the weight of the snow bringing down power lines, and the high winds causing equipment failure.

The Beauty After the Storm

Despite their fury, blizzards often leave behind beautiful landscapes, with a serene blanket of snow and intricately sculpted snowdrifts.

The Joy of Snow Days

For children, one of the most exciting parts of a blizzard can be the announcement of a snow day, a day off from school to enjoy the snow.

Final Word

In conclusion, blizzards are some of the most fascinating weather phenomena to behold. While they can cause chaos and destruction for those living in their paths, the sheer scale and power displayed during a blizzard is something to behold. As we continue to grapple with the effects of climate change and the shifting weather patterns it brings, the intensity and frequency of blizzards may increase. But no matter what the future holds, one thing is certain: blizzards will continue to be one of the most impressive displays of nature’s power for humans to marvel at.