Ground blizzard

February 8th, 2016: Something interesting weather-wise happened in the Midwest today. Have you ever heard of a ground blizzard? I’m sure you are familiar with a blizzard; one almost reached the Stateline last week, and buried some spots in Iowa with a foot of snow.

What makes a blizzard such a dangerous storm is not necessarily the amount of snow, but what the storm does with it. A blizzard produces high winds, which blows the snow around, and creates whiteouts. Not only is driving very difficult to dangerous, the whiteouts make it impossible to see.

There were blizzard warnings into Iowa and Minnesota today, but not because of a major winter storm slamming the area again. Instead, a ground blizzard occurred.

This image, tweeted out by the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI, shows the dangerous weather conditions during the ground blizzard.

This image, tweeted out by the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI, shows the dangerous weather conditions during the ground blizzard.

The big difference is between a “regular” blizzard and a “ground” blizzard is that the ground blizzard is much more of a wind-driven event. These events happen a lot more often in North and South Dakota, where high winds are able to blow around light and fluffy snow, causing whiteouts in the windy areas. Today’s storm did produce a couple inches of light snow, which was enough to create impossible-to-see conditions when combined with the winds.

The reason behind all of this? It’s easy to get caught up in how much snow we can get in a storm, but remember that other conditions like wind can factor into how dangerous a storm can be!

– Alex

 

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Posted under science, weather, Wind, winter storm, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 8, 2016

1 Comment so far

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