Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

A Blizzard-like Storm

The local newspaper carried this headline today: “Blizzard-like Storm Coming!” I’ve been trying to figure out what to expect all morning. How much like a blizzard must a snow storm be in order to be an actual blizzard?

A blizzard, of course, is a heavy snow storm with high winds. Will we be having heavy snow with little or no wind? Or a heavy wind with little or no snow? Would that, too, be a “blizzard-like” storm.

The two parts of the word blizzard are not equal: a blizzard is a kind of snow storm, so snow, unfortunately, will be at the bottom of whatever we receive tomorrow.

The accompanying article confirms this, unfortunately. Wind clearly will be playing little or no role in the heavy snow the blizzard-like storm will drop on top of the aftermath of the last blizzard-like storm.

I can’t complain, though: we have had a relatively mild winter up to this point.

One Response to “A Blizzard-like Storm”

  1. Brian Johnson Says:

    According to Wikipedia, the meteorology services in the US, Canada and the UK all have different definitions of “blizzard.” There seem to be five criteria: Wind speed (ws), visability (v), duration of windspeed equal to or greater than the ws criterium (d), temperature or wind chill (t) and snow which is further subdivided into falling snow (fs) and blowing snow (bs)
    (in the following “-” means “not stated”
    ws>56km/h, v3hr, t -, fs -, bs yes
    ws>40km/h, v3hr, t48km/h, v moderate bs –

    Since you live in the US, maybe the paper means a storm that would qualify as a blizzard in another jurisdiction but does not satisfy the US definition. Or perhaps a storm that has
    ws=41km/h, v=399m, d=2:59, t=-14C (air temp = -5C, ws=41), sf=moderate

    These conditions would not satisfy any definition, but would probably be pretty severe weather to be out and about.

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