What is a Whiteout?

"Whiteout" is a word that you may hear in a winter forecast. It occurs when snow (or even sand) reduces visibility to next to zero. When the ground is covered in a white blanket of snow, new snow that falls from a lake-effect storm or a blizzard can cause the landscape to blend together. Add in whitish grey storm clouds and your sense of spacial boundaries can become warped quickly.

This can obviously lead to very dangerous road conditions. When your vision is impaired during a storm it's important to slow down, leave more space between your car and the car in front of you, and keep your headlights on.

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.

Daily U.S. Extremes

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WeatherWhys®

This Day In Weather History

Lake Superior (1960)
A severe lake storm along the north shore of Lake Superior: waves 20-40 feet high, wind gust to 73 mph. Floods and waves caused structural damage.

Goodland, KS (1983)
19 inches of snow on the ground with drifts of up to 8 feet.

East (1990)
Sixty cities tied or established new record high temperatures for the date.