The WDAY-TV viewing area has more blizzards, on average, than anywhere else in the United States, except maybe the north slope of Alaska...but what does, “blizzard,” mean to you?

When a Blizzard Warning is issued, it is not necessarily a warning of a big snowfall. In fact, snow might not fall at all. Wind and blowing snow are the keys to a blizzard.

The word "blizzard" comes from the German word “blitz,” meaning "lightning" or "fast." As European settlers moved to the Great Plains, the meaning gradually evolved to describe a nasty snowstorm with high wind.

The official definition from the National Weather Service is a wind of near or frequently gusting above 35 miles per hour, causing visibility of less than one-quarter of a mile due to either falling snow or of windblown snow already on the ground, and lasting for at least three hours.

Whether it’s with a heavy snowfall, a light snow, or just windblown snow cover, blizzards deliver their worst to our rural areas. In the flat, treeless landscape, poor visibility and heavy drifting make it dangerous or simply impossible to travel in a blizzard.

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Our region averages around two or three blizzards a winter.