Ground Blizzard: What Is One & Who Is Going To See One?
It sounds odd. A ground blizzard? When you picture a blizzard, you probably picture a scene like this:
That was blizzard footage I shot while storm chasing for the CBS affiliate in eastern Iowa, winter of 2011. What you see here is quite a bit of snow (16″ fell in spots), along with VERY intense winds.
You don’t always need that for a blizzard to take place, however. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) and National Weather Service (NWS) define a blizzard as: “a wind of 30 knots (35 miles per hour) or greater, sufficient snow in the air to reduce visibility to less than 400 m (0.25 miles)”
Notice that nowhere in that definition comes mentions of the quantity of snow per hour, storm total snow, etc. It’s strictly wind and some form of snow. Enter: ground blizzard. I was driving home from work while living in Casper, Wyoming (my first television job) one day, in full sunshine immediately after snow had fallen. A giant wind gust came and created a blinding sea of BRIGHT white around me – enough to actually frighten me. That was a ground blizzard.
Here are the ingredients in play for this ground blizzard event (there will be a small amount of additional light snow, too, so it’s not purely a ground blizzard):
So… you have 25-35mph sustained winds (gusting higher) as per the model map, and you have at least 1-2 inches of snow, if not 3-4+… and it’s fluffy/”dry” snow.
That is why we have blizzard conditions expected over where those maps overlap.
Stay tuned to WeatherNation the next 24 hours to see what comes of this windy & snowy situation!
WeatherNation Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer @ashafferWNTV