Wild Weather



A blizzard is an organized winter storm packing winds over 35 mph, blinding wind-driven snow, severe drifting, and dangerous wind chill. Strong winds with these intense storms can knock down trees, utility poles, and power lines. Storms near the coast can cause coastal flooding and beach erosion, sometimes sinking ships at sea or in the Great Lakes. Blizzards are frequently called “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths that result are indirectly related to the storm, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads or from hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to cold.

Satellites are excellent winter storm trackers as well as providing the best evidence of where the heaviest snow fell after a storm passes. Remote sensing instruments flown on satellites are even being used to estimate snow depth and water content. As satellites images became increasingly available to meteorologists in the 1980s, one of the most helpful interpretation skills was using satellite loops to differentiate between freshly fallen snow and cloud cover. The clouds moved, but the snow didn't!