Weather Why: Snow Forecast Descriptions

Data pix.

When winter weather is looming, you will hear many different descriptions for the type of weather to expect. Not all snow events are equal and because of that, you’ll hear meteorologists using different terms to describe the snow that will move through.

In this weekend’s Weather Why, Meteorologist Megan Salois explains each term for snowfall events and the difference between each. Bill W. asks “I heard reporters say there are possible snow showers. I have heard reporters say just snow and also blizzard. Can you please tell me the different stages of snow?”

Snowfall intensity and events range from very light with no accumulation described as flurries to heavy snowfall and strong winds that lead to whiteout conditions in an event called a blizzard.

Flurries: A few flakes, no accumulation

Snow Showers: Sudden brief snow events, varying sky conditions, some minor accumulation

Snow: Steady longer-term snow event, can have varying intensity from light, moderate to heavy, accumulation expected

Snow Squall: Sudden moderately heavy snow with blowing snow and strong gusty winds, less than 3 hours in length

Blizzard: Heavy snow event or blowing snow with winds of 35 mph or higher, whiteout conditions for 3 hours or more

Ask Megan your weather question here and she will answer it on a future Sunday!


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