What Weather Conditions Causes Blizzards?

By Megan Kelly
David Madison/Photodisc/Getty Images

According to the National Weather Service, blizzards are strong storm systems that occur most frequently in the Northern and Midwestern United States. Blizzards can create life-threatening conditions because of blowing snow and high winds. These strong storm systems can also create power outages, frozen pipelines and cut off regular fuel sources. It is often dangerous to travel in blizzard conditions, and people who are caught outside in these storm systems can become hypothermic because of low temperatures and high winds.

Development

Blizzards commonly develop on the northwestern side of intense winter storm systems. The difference in low-pressure systems and high-pressure storm systems create a tight pressure gradient, which is the cause of strong winds, says weather.com. This occurs when the jet stream dips south while cooler air from the north clashes with warmer air from the south, the National Weather Service says.

Occurrence

Blizzards can occur during snowfall or after snowfall. High winds pick up falling snow or grounded snow and blow it around, causing low visibility, usually one-quarter mile or less, for three or more hours at a time, the National Weather Service says.

Conditions

Blizzards commonly occur with temperatures around or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, says weather.com. These low temperatures combined with strong winds create a low wind-chill factor, which is the amount of cooling someone feels from the combination of temperature and wind speed. Although blizzards can create very low wind-chill factors, heavy snowfall and severe cold are not required for blizzard conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

About the Author

Megan Kelly started writing professionally in 2007 when she was published in the anthology, "Lit Kids: Mama Bird and the Electric Rabbit" through Mill City Press. She is also a submissions reviewer and grant writer for "Spout Press," an independent magazine in Minneapolis. Kelly is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Minnesota.