Recipe for a Blizzard
What makes it worse than a snowstorm—and can we expect more in the future?
Visibility is the most important element in the mix, said meteorologist Matt Kelsch, with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "Usually, it takes that strength of wind—[35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour]—to pick enough snow off the ground to reduce visibility that much," he said.
"[But] it doesn't always have to be snowing to be a blizzard," Kelsch added. In the U.S., areas of the Great Plains and western states can get something called ground blizzards: storms in which high winds pick up snow from the ground and whip it around, greatly reducing visibility.
Will blizzards become more frequent in the future as a response to climate change? That's difficult to know for sure, said Kelsch, but warming oceans may increase