Why Do Blizzards Happen? Here Are 7+ Reasons Why.

Blizzards happen when cold and warm air collide, creating high winds and heavy snow. They pose dangers like car accidents, frostbite, and hypothermia.

why do blizzards happen

What sucks most about blizzards is that they seem to happen when we’re caught at work or on the road. But that’s what makes it so important to know if one is headed your way, even if the conditions are blizzard-friendly.

Let’s examine why do blizzards happen and why getting caught in one is dangerous.

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Why do blizzards happen?

Cold polar air meets warm air. As the warming, moist air travels upwards, and now we’ve got snow. When the two masses meet, it also provides enough atmospheric tension to cause high wind speeds.

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And blizzards are born.

7 Reasons Why Blizzards Are Dangerous

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Severe Threat to Public Safety

The road conditions spiral downward during a blizzard. The heavy and cold precipitation increases the odds of car accidents and road fatalities due to icy roads and poor visibility. 

Where do blizzards happen in the US?

Blizzards strike the upper Midwest and the Great Plains most commonly. But don’t let that fool you, either. 

The only spots that have never reported a blizzard are the Gulf Coast and the California coast. Blizzards have popped up on high-altitude mountain tops in the tropics, so you never know.

Pedestrian Slip and Fall

Even walking becomes a hazard during a blizzard. It doesn’t have too big a car or big rig headed in your direction.

The walkway under your feet is taking on snow and slush, too. A slip and fall during a blizzard can lead to more implications than a bump on the head or broken bone.

People freeze to death during blizzards.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is one of the deadliest threats when it’s below freezing outside. This means that blizzards put people at risk if caught in frigid weather.

When your core body temperature gets below 95°F (35 95°C), you risk going into hyperthermia. It can lead to complete heart failure, repository system failure, and death if not treated quickly.

Frostbite

Continued exposure to extreme cold conditions can lead to frostbite. It happens when the skin and the tissue underneath freeze. 

Mild frostbite is pretty easy to treat with a well-stocked emergency kit. But, it can lead to losing fingers, toes, and even the tip of your nose.

What 3 things cause a blizzard?

Nature only needs cold air, moisture, and rising warm air to build a blizzard. 

Some blizzards happen on the ground, meaning that strong winds pick up the snow on the ground and throw it around.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

You don’t have to be outside for a blizzard to be dangerous. Managing the cold when the electricity goes out must be done carefully.

People risk carbon monoxide poisoning when using a generator to generate heat or sitting in their vehicle in a closed garage.

Heart Attacks

While it doesn’t happen often, heart attacks are a risk during a blizzard. Shoveling feet and feet of snow puts a strain on the body that can lead someone with heart disease straight into a heart attack.

How cold are blizzards?

The most severe blizzards can bring with them winds over 45 mph (72km), near zero visibility, and insanely cold temperatures (10 °F and lower).

Most often, blizzards come with heavy snowfalls and temperatures around 20°F -6°C), which is still damned cold.

Damages to Buildings and Infrastructure

Snow weighs a crap-ton and will build up on roofs of homes and buildings. Roof collapses are a danger to anyone inside a structure.

Blizzards bring so much snow that they can destroy power lines, leaving entire regions without electricity. Extreme cold and lack of heat can lead to dangerous situations, even if it’s frozen pipes.

How long do you have to prepare for a blizzard?

Just because you’ve not had a blizzard in five years doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for one.

Makes a Checklist and Check It Twice

An emergency plan is sometimes the difference between a bad situation and a dangerous one.

  1. Seal it up. Ready the home by caulking doors and windows.
  2. Insulation. Check attics and basements to replace or upgrade current insulation.
  3. Protect the pipes. Wrap any exposed pipes so that they don’t freeze.
  4. Sandbags. Sand quickly melts ice on walkways and steps. Shoveling can get dangerous.
  5. Check alarms and equipment. Make sure batteries work and nothing has passed their expiration date.
  6. Firewood. Load up on as much as possible; you never know how long a blizzard will last.
  7. Emergency kit. Check the checklist for the checklist to make sure you have the supplies you need in the case of an emergency.

How long do you have to prepare for a blizzard?

You will want to stock a 3-day supply lot of food and water for every person and pet sheltered in place. 

Keep Up with the Weather

When the weather starts to go south, it’s always time to pay close attention to any alerts and warnings. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will continually update the situation.

If a blizzard warning is issued, find shelter as quickly as possible, and stay there.

Don’t Forget Your Car

You always have a chance of getting caught on the road during a blizzard. It can’t always be helped. 

But you can ensure the gas tank is full, and your car emergency aid kit is stocked and within reach.

After the Blizzard

The aftermath of a blizzard can be even more dangerous than the storm itself. 

  • Use a quality snow shovel and find the warmest pair of gloves that you own.
  • Don’t over-exert yourself.
  • Be careful walking on slick surfaces. Slip and falls suck a lot.
  • Watch out for falling branches. Heavy snow can snap them off sturdy trees.
  • Frostbite and hypothermia are dangers that can happen if you stay outside too long, even after the snow has stopped falling.

FAQs

What 3 things cause a blizzard?

  • cold air
  • moisture
  • rising warm air

What causes snow blizzard?

Wind yanks frigid air towards the equator, which has naturally moister and warmer air. It then forms a front that also includes snow. 

When measuring the danger of a blizzard, the National Weather Service measures how strong the winds are, not how much snow it dumps.

When in the US are blizzards most likely to happen?

Blizzards in the US are most likely to happen during winter, but they can also occur in autumn and spring. The occurrence of these blizzards is influenced by the movement of a mass of cold polar air from higher latitudes rapidly southward, which then encounters a strong northward flow of moist tropical air from lower latitudes.

What is the main cause of blizzards?

The main cause of blizzards is the rising of warm air over cold air, which occurs when cold air is pulled towards the equator from the poles and warm air is brought towards the poles from the equator by winds. This convergence of warm and cold air creates a front, leading to precipitation and the formation of blizzards.

Can blizzards be predicted?

Blizzards can be predicted by using satellite images to analyze cloud patterns and track the movement of winter storms. By combining multiple satellite images, forecasters are able to observe the development and potential progression of a storm.

What states have the most blizzards?

The states with the most dangerous blizzards, based on the deadliest winter storms in US history, include Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont.

How do you survive a blizzard?

To survive a blizzard, it is important to follow these 8 expert tips for staying safe: Prepare an emergency medicine bag, stock up on food and water, stay updated on winter storm warnings, be vigilant for signs of frostbite, watch out for symptoms of hypothermia, and ensure your car is ready for winter weather emergencies.

What time of year does a blizzard occur?

A blizzard can occur during various times of the year, including winter, autumn, and spring. The occurrence of a blizzard is typically triggered when a mass of cold polar air swiftly moves southward from higher latitudes and intersects with a powerful northward flow of moist tropical air from lower latitudes.

Why are blizzards most common in winter?

Blizzards are most common in winter because the warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, leading to an increased likelihood and severity of blizzards in areas where temperatures remain cold enough for snow.

How do you know when a blizzard is coming?

The way to determine if a blizzard is approaching is by observing certain conditions. These conditions include cold ground temperatures, high humidity, and fast-moving air that generates strong winds. All three of these conditions must be present in order for the stormy weather to have the potential to develop into a blizzard.

What to do during a blizzard?

During a blizzard, it is important to stay off roads if you can. If you find yourself trapped in your car, it is best to remain inside. It is advisable to minimize your time spent outside, but if you must go out, make sure to dress in layers of warm clothing. To lower the risk of a heart attack, avoid overexertion while shoveling snow or walking in the snow.

How do you know a blizzard is coming?

A blizzard can be identified by the expectation of low visibility of 1/4 mile or less caused by heavy falling and/or blowing snow, along with winds of at least 35 mph persisting for a minimum of 3 hours. Typically, Blizzard Warnings are issued approximately 12 to 24 hours prior to the anticipated arrival of the blizzard.

What was the longest blizzard ever?

The longest blizzard ever was the Great Blizzard of 1888, which is also referred to as the Great Blizzard of ’88 or the Great White Hurricane. This severe recorded blizzard occurred from March 11 to March 14, 1888, and it had a significant impact on the East Coast of the United States, stretching from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The storm caused paralysis in these regions.

What is biggest danger of a blizzard?

The biggest danger of a blizzard is that heavy snowfall and blizzards can easily trap motorists in their vehicles, making it extremely dangerous to walk and find help. Additionally, the severe cold temperatures and wind chills during and after a winter storm can result in hypothermia and be fatal for anyone caught outside for an extended period of time.

How long do blizzards live?

Blizzards have a lifespan that can extend for a week or longer, as they are formed by powerful winds such as katabatic winds and those generated by steep sea-level pressure gradients associated with winter storms in high and mid-latitudes. These storms can cover vast areas of a continent, making them capable of persisting for an extended period of time.

Where do blizzards happen the most?

Blizzards happen the most in regions with cold climates and abundant snow, such as the northern United States, Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, and Antarctica.

How cold can blizzards get?

Blizzards can reach temperatures of −12 °C (10 °F) or lower, with winds exceeding 72 km (45 miles) per hour and visibility near zero.

How fast can a blizzard go?

A blizzard can reach speeds of over 120 miles per hour, which is faster than the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah. This information comes from the National Weather Service, which defines blizzards as snowstorms with winds exceeding 35 miles per hour and visibility of less than a quarter mile.

How do you stay safe in a blizzard?

To stay safe in a blizzard, it is important to dress in multiple layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing rather than relying on a single heavy layer. Your outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Additionally, make sure to wear a hat, mittens (not gloves), and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Lastly, cover your mouth with a scarf to safeguard your lungs.

How are blizzards born?

Blizzards are born when cold polar air encounters warm, moist air from lower latitudes, resulting in the formation of clouds and precipitation. Sufficient moisture is essential, which requires the presence of air moving over a body of water, such as a large lake or the ocean, to generate water vapor.

Are blizzards worse than winter storms?

Blizzards are more severe than winter storms as they are dangerous winter storms characterized by low visibilities caused by a combination of blowing snow and wind. On the other hand, a winter storm refers to a combination of heavy snow, blowing snow, and/or dangerous wind chills, which can also pose a life-threatening situation.

What do animals do during a blizzard?

Animals take shelter during a blizzard. They can find refuge in various microhabitats such as dense underbrush or vegetation. Some birds, like woodpeckers and chickadees, will seek out tree holes, while other animals may hide in rocky crevices or man-made structures for protection.

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