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Weather Talk: Definition of blizzard depends on visibility, not accumulation of snow

A blizzard is a period of at least three hours in which blowing snow or falling snow are kept airborne by wind sustained over or near 35 mph, or with frequent gusts over 35 mph, so as to reduce visibility to less than one-quarter mile. It is impo...

A blizzard is a period of at least three hours in which blowing snow or falling snow are kept airborne by wind sustained over or near 35 mph, or with frequent gusts over 35 mph, so as to reduce visibility to less than one-quarter mile. It is important to note there is no requirement that a certain amount of snow must fall. A blizzard is about snow and wind reducing visibility, not accumulation. During Tuesday's storm, the sensor at Hector Airport recorded such conditions for just two hours Tuesday afternoon. Thus, for the cities of Fargo and Moorhead, that wasn't a blizzard. However, it easily was a blizzard in many areas around, even close to Fargo. When a wind storm has only a little snow to work with, conditions often vary locally and are worse in spots where wind can blow for long distances. This is often referred to as a "ground blizzard." Such storms often leave city people wondering where the storm is while the folks in the country are well-aware.

- John Wheeler

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