Winter Weather

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

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.

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.

And blizzards are born.

7 Reasons Why Blizzards Are Dangerous


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 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.


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.


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.

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

Pinterest // Email

Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.