how long do blizzards last

How long do blizzards last? Blizzards are very windy, snowy, and cold weather events that often occur throughout the winter. 

Blizzards have been responsible for fatalities, traffic accidents, and citywide closures. 

Blizzards may continue for up to five days, with snow falling and winds howling. Some of these may create total whiteout, which occurs when a large amount of snow falls and reduces vision.

In this article, you will learn how long they last and how to stay safe during the duration.

How Do Blizzards Form?

blizzard formation

Blizzards are severe winter storms that blow snow and high winds, resulting in very limited visibility. 

However, heavy snowfalls and bitter cold do not always accompany blizzards.

The majority of individuals have difficulties distinguishing between blizzards and snowstorms.

Both may seem similar at first glance, however, they differ greatly.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between the Two?

The intensity of the wind is one big difference. For a storm to be categorized as a blizzard, the wind speed must be at least 35 miles per hour. 

Snow storms often feature lower wind speeds ranging from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

While still dangerous, these gusts are not as devastating as those associated with a blizzard.

blizzard forest

Another difference between these two types of storms is the amount of snowfall.

During a blizzard, many inches of snow may fall while snowstorms often result in just a few inches of accumulation.

Finally, blizzards produce greater visibility issues than snowstorms. As a consequence, it’s critical to understand the possible hazards of each kind of storm.

Note: Blizzards arise when snow, wind, and visibility combine. 

A blizzard must meet three criteria:

  • Less than quarter-mile visibility;
  • There are 35-mph winds or gusts.
  • Three hours have passed.

If these characteristics aren’t satisfied, it’s not a blizzard. If they do, a snowstorm ensues.

How Long Do Blizzards Last?

A blizzard is a severe snowfall followed by a strong and persistent wind lasting up to five days or longer.

The intensity of the wind distinguishes snowstorms from blizzards.

The wind speed required to generate a blizzard is at least 35 mph (56 km/h). 

how long blizzards last

Consequently, the wind blows and drifts snow, reducing visibility to 0.25m (400 m). It doesn’t take long for snowfall or typical precipitation to turn into a blizzard.

Blizzards often bring dangerously low temperatures, high winds, ice, freezing rain, and slush.

However, the length of time they last depend on the following conditions.

1. The Temperatures

Blizzards need cold air with temperatures below freezing to develop: For there to be snow, the temperatures have to be just right. 

Both the temperatures in the clouds, where snowflakes form, and the temperatures on the ground must be quite cold.

Therefore, blizzards can last for a shorter or longer time, depending on how much the temperature rises and decreases.   


2. The Presence of Moisture 

The presence of moisture determines the duration of a blizzard. For example, moisture is necessary to form clouds and precipitation: 

For water vapor to rise, there must be enough air moving over a body of water, like a large lake or the ocean. 

“Lake effect snowstorms” and “Nor’easters” get so humid because some water vapor in the air evaporates. 

Unfortunately, cold air cannot hold much water vapor, so it does not create much snow. Hence blizzards cannot form in the absence of moisture.

blizzard trees in forest

3. The Presence Of Warm, Rising Air

How long do blizzards usually last? The presence of warm, rising air determines how long the Blizzard will last. 

For a blizzard to occur, warm air must ascend above cold air.

Winds may either drag cold air from the poles towards the equator or carry warm air from the poles towards the equator. 

When warm and cold air come together, a front forms and precipitation ensues.

On the other hand, warm air may ascend and generate clouds and blizzard snows as it moves up a slope.

4. The Presence of Storms with High Winds

storm high winds

Strong winds may accompany winter storms, resulting in blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow; without strong winds.

It is rare for a blizzard to occur without strong winds; hence the presence or absence of such winds affects the duration of a blizzard.

5. The Type Of Blizzard

There are three types of blizzards, and each one last for a different period, as explained in detail below:

Nor’easter Blizzards

A Nor’easter is a snowstorm that rotates counterclockwise owing to the Coriolis effect.

The Coriolis effect is caused by the Earth’s rotation and how it impacts weather patterns and ocean currents. 

It causes storms to whirl in various directions depending on which hemisphere it occurs.

Storms revolve clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern. 

noreaster blizzard type

A Nor’easter, which brings heavy rain or snow, may produce significant flooding. Nor’easter may last for up to 3hours.

A Lake Effect Blizzard 

A Lake Effect A blizzard is an unusual phenomenon.

This is a snowstorm caused by cold air moving over a huge body of water, gathering moisture and generating circumstances favorable to heavy precipitation. 

These storms often originate in Canada and move over the United States Great Lakes area, where they may dump huge quantities of snow in a short period.

It may fall at a pace of more than 2-3 inches per hour and last for up to 3hrs.

Ground Blizzards

Ground blizzards are a kind of snowstorm that may disrupt transport and everyday life substantially.

High winds sweep loose snow over the ground, decreasing visibility and making movement difficult.

ground type blizzard

Ground blizzards are classified into three types: vertical advection, horizontal advection, and thermal-mechanical.

When air is pulled upwards, vertical advection occurs. It can generate a snow wave hundreds of feet in length.

Horizontal advection occurs when the wind pushes snow across the ground rather than vertically. 

Thermal mechanical blizzards arise when vertical and horizontal advection occur; they are the most uncommon of the ground blizzards.

Ground blizzards can last up to 5days or more, depending on their occurrence.

Note: Ground blizzards of all three categories may substantially affect transport and everyday life.

What are the Consequences of Blizzard?

How long a blizzard lasts affects transportation and daily life. As explained below:

Car Accidents are Common During Blizzards

blizzard car

Blizzards are one of the numerous sorts of severe meteorological occurrences. They may be very dangerous to public safety. 

During blizzards, car accidents are prevalent because slippery roads and limited visibility make driving hazardous. 

Note: Pedestrians are at risk of being struck by autos or slipping on ice. No one should be strolling outside because it is dangerous. 

Blizzards Cause Hypothermia and Frostbite

By exposing humans to freezing temperatures, blizzards may induce hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia is a dangerously low body temperature that may result in mortality.

In extreme circumstances, frostbite might result in the amputation of your afflicted extremities, such as a finger or toe.

Blizzards Pose the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

carbon monoxide car

People attempt to stay warm by running generators inside or sitting in their cars with the heating turned on in a locked garage.

Shoveling snow is also a demanding task that might result in a heart attack in persons with heart issues.

Blizzard Snow May Destroy Roofs

Roofs may potentially collapse due to the weight of snow in blizzards. This has the potential to do significant damage to homes and businesses.

Blizzards may sometimes cause power outages when iced-over power wires collapse under the weight of the snow.

Due to this, people may be without heat or light for days or even weeks. 

Blizzards May Block Roads and Prevent Movement

blizzard roadblocks

Blizzards may also block roads and prohibit people from traveling in rare situations.

This makes it difficult to acquire the assistance they need in an emergency. As you can see, blizzards may be hazardous and create various issues.

Note: Consequently, understanding the hazards of blizzards and taking precautions to keep safe during these situations is critical.

Final Verdict

How long do blizzards last?

Blizzards may last up to five days, with snow falling and winds howling.

Some of these may create total whiteout, which occurs when a large amount of snow falls and reduces vision.

Consequently, understanding the hazards of blizzards and taking precautions to keep safe during these situations is critical.

Thanks for reading!