Facts About Blizzards: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:06 What Is a Blizzard?
  • 1:11 What Causes Blizzards?
  • 1:51 Blizzard Hazards
  • 2:40 Preparing for a Blizzard
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Lavallo

Danielle has taught computer technology and gifted education classes. She has a master's degree in teaching and learning.

Blizzards are powerful winter storms whose high winds and blowing snow cause many hazards. In this lesson, we discuss how and where blizzards form, along with important safety and storm preparation tips.

What Is a Blizzard?

'...Total whiteout conditions are expected across the entire area…' said the meteorologist, as Joe and his mother were listening to the weather forecast. 'What does she mean, Mom?' asked Joe. 'That means that we need to get ready,' said Mom, 'because a blizzard is coming!'

Blizzards are dangerous winter storms with heavy wind and blowing snow. They are more powerful and dangerous than regular snowstorms. In order to be called a blizzard, the storm must have lots of falling or blowing snow, winds 35 mph or higher, and visibility, or how far you can see clearly, of 1/4 mile or less. These conditions must happen for three or more hours.

Whiteout conditions occur when the powdery blowing snow makes it almost impossible to see. While many think that snow must be falling to have a blizzard, this is not true. Sometimes a ground blizzard can form when heavy winds pick up snow that has already fallen.

What Causes Blizzards?

Blizzards are caused by large low-pressure storm systems, clashing with high pressure. The result is very high winds. Moisture from oceans and lakes creates clouds, which grow bigger and higher when the warm air and cold air collide. Combine that with below freezing temperatures and you have a blizzard!

They can happen anywhere in the world that has a climate where snow can fall. In the United States, blizzards occur frequently in the Midwest and Great Plains areas, since there is lots of open land without trees and buildings to minimize the wind and snow.

Blizzard Hazards

Blizzards can be dangerous for many reasons. Walking and driving can be hazardous because of slippery roads, low visibility, and snowdrifts, which are large, high piles of windblown snow. Additionally, wind, ice, and heavy snow, can also knock down power lines and cause power outages.

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