A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong winds and low temperatures. The difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind: sustained winds or frequent gusts that are greater than or equal to 56 km/h (35 mph) with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or a quarter mile or less.
If stranded in the car in the blizzard, use the standard U.S. distress signal, a repetition of any three long blasts, whistle blows, horn honks, or headlight flashes. Make the three of equal length and repeat every few minutes.
Dress in warm layers and wear insulated boots, hat, and gloves. Cover your mouth when outside to protect your lungs from subfreezing air. If hypothermia presents, strip off wet clothing, and wrap in dry, warm fabrics.
Frostbite is indicated when the affected areas turn pale or white and lose feeling...When a person's core body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), the person is experiencing hypothermia. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness, disorientation, slurred speech, and exhaustion.
In Omaha, Nebraska, utility crews struggled overnight -- sometimes in near whiteout conditions -- to restore power to 38,500 customers left in the dark by the storm, according to the Omaha Public Power District.
The storm -- the first blizzard of the season -- made travel treacherous throughout the region. Nebraska authorities closed much of snow-packed Interstate 80 through the state Thursday morning as blowing snow dangerously reduced visibility.
Vegetation plays a large role in snow distribution patters; it interacts with snow through interception, by retaining blowing snow, and by reducing sublimation losses due to blowing snow. Vegetation can accelerate or delay snow-melt depending on canopy characteristics and the amount of incoming energy.
There are four terms that describe the intensity of snowfall:
1. Snow flurry refers to light showers of snow that do not cover large areas and do not fall steadily for long periods of time.
2. Freezing rain is precipitation that cools below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), but does not turn to ice in the air. The water is supercooled. When the drops hit anything they instantly turn into ice.
3. Ice storm is a storm with large amounts of freezing rain that coats trees, power lines and roadways with ice.
4. A blizzard is a severe winter storm that packs a combination of snow and wind, resulting in very low visibility. Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as large amounts of falling or blowing snow with winds in excess of 56 kilometers (35 miles) per hour and visibilities of less than 0.40 kilometers (0.25 miles) for more than 3 hours.
Forecasters also rate the expected severity of blizzards and other snowy weather using a scale:
1.) A Winter Weather Advisory is issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet that may present a hazard but does not merit a warning.
2.) A Winter Storm Watch is issued to alert the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet.
3.) A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a hazardous winter weather event is imminent or occurring, and is considered a threat to life and property.
Starting with a germ of ice, a snow crystal develops by sublimation and deposition, sometimes with the added freezing of surrounding water droplets...The snow crystals continue [to grow until] they have obtained this 'critical' mass [and] fall, more or less joined into snowflakes.
Snow is commonly formed when water vapor changes directly to ice without first becoming a liquid, this process is known as deposition.
When temperatures of less than 32°F are at the higher altitude in the atmosphere the ice crystals are created.