Blizzards Can Happen When it's Not Snowing

Snow can greatly reduce visibility during big storms, but blizzard conditions, believe it or not, can occur without snow actually falling.

When most think of a blizzard they associate it with a big, strong storm system and heavy snow precipitation, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.

By definition a blizzard contains sustained winds of 35 mph or greater for 3 straight hours or longer, along with heavy falling OR blowing of snow that reduces the visibility to under a 1/4 mile.

No where in that definition, however, does it say that it actually has to be snowing. In fact, sometimes blizzards occur long after the snow has stopped falling.

The strongest winds often come on the back side of a storm system. These winds can be strong enough to pick up snow that's already on the ground, leading to blizzard conditions. This is known as a "ground blizzard."

More Weather Glossary

  • Hoar Frost

    After a cold, clear winter night without much wind, the ground and nearby tree branches may be covered by tiny, white ice crystals.

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This Day In Weather History

New York, NY (1992)
No 90-degree readings during June; the first June without any 90-degree heat since 1985.

Vernon Hill, UT (1994)
Wind gust to 84 mph.

Boston, MA (1999)
No measurable rain the entire month of June (normal is 3.09").

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