What classifies a winter storm as a blizzard?

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 3:34 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2022 at 11:08 AM CST
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - As we head into the winter season, TV6 will be diving deeper behind some of the terms you will hear the First Alert Weather team talk about during the season.

The NOAA Glossary definition of a blizzard: “A blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer: sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles and hour or greater; and considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than a quarter of a mile.”

Based on the definition, there could be no snow falling from the sky, but blizzard conditions are still possible on the ground. This is called a ground blizzard.

Blizzards can produce several inches to several feet of snow, or they can produce as little as a few tenths of an inch of snow, similar to a blizzard that happened in the Quad Cities area December 11-12, 2010.

Snowfall totals from that storm ranged from a few tenths of an inch to nearly 3 inches. Following the snow, several hours of sustained winds 25-35 mph gusting to 50 mph kicked up the light, fluffy snow, reducing visibility and causing travel issues.

Previous Weather Word Wednesday segments on Quad Cities Today at 11:


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