It’s easy to get confused about what the difference is between a snowstorm and a blizzard. With winter weather often bringing these harsh conditions, it’s important to educate yourself on the differences – not only for safety reasons but also so you can track them accurately if you’re a weather enthusiast! Snowstorms and blizzards are both colder than normal winter storms with severe winds blowing, however, there is more meaning to it than just wind and cold temperatures. Read on as we dig into some of the key factors in distinguishing between a snowstorm and a blizzard.
What is a Snowstorm?
- Snowstorms can create some of the most difficult winter weather one can encounter. Snowstorms are unique because they do not follow normal weather patterns, often causing unexpected snowfall that accumulates quickly.
- Snowstorms can be caused by an incoming cold front set off by a shift in high and low pressure or other sudden changes in atmospheric pressure. Snowstorms cover large areas of land and bring with them intense freezing temperatures, strong winds, heavy snowfall, and dangerous icy roads.
- Snowstorms cause major disruptions to travel, infrastructure, and everyday life as they shut down airports, interrupt power lines, and sometimes keep children at home from school when they become too severe. Snowstorms bring many dangers and uncertainties along with them but also bring people together so that they can have comforting indoor activities like baking cookies or having a game night!
What is Blizzard?
Blizzard winter weather is a unique type of winter storm characterized by high winds, significantly reduced visibility, and thick amounts of falling snow or ice pellets. Blizzard conditions are created when a strong, low-pressure system interacts with a mass of frigid air in the upper atmosphere.
During these fierce events, temperatures can drop drastically and snowfall can exceed six inches per hour. While blizzards may be dangerous to human life and commerce due to their severity, their beauty is undeniable. Blizzard winter weather is something to behold if you’re fortunate enough to experience it safely from your home or car.
Difference between Snowstorm and Blizzard
Snowstorms and Blizzards are both severe winter weather events, but they differ in several key ways. Snowstorms, while still intense and often accompanied by high winds, produce moderate to heavy snowfalls over a wide area. Blizzards, however, occur when these high winds reach 35 mph or faster and reduce visibility significantly due to blowing snow. Snow is not the only thing that must be taken into consideration when measuring the severity of a blizzard; drifting snow can seriously affect roads and other infrastructure if a blizzard lingers for multiple days.
A winter storm can bring a variety of conditions, including snow, ice, sleet, and high winds. Knowing the difference between these conditions can help you be better prepared for dangerous driving conditions. A blizzard is a severe winter storm that is characterized by heavy snow and strong winds. Blizzards can reduce visibility to near zero, making travel very dangerous.
A snowstorm is a less severe winter storm that may include some combination of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and high winds. Snowstorms can also reduce visibility, but not to the same degree as a blizzard. When preparing for a winter storm, it’s important to know the forecasted conditions so you can plan accordingly. Stay safe this winter season by being aware of the differences between snowstorms and blizzards!