Blizzard, a blinding snowstorm with cold, high winds. In severe blizzards, the wind speed typically is more than 45 mph (72 km/h), the temperature below 10 F. (12 C.), and visibility near zero. The high winds tend to sweep the snow into deep drifts.
Blizzards can occur with the advance of a mass of cold air, especially when the cold air pushes into a mass of much warmer air. Blizzards are most common in Canada, Russia, and the United States. The storms can immobilize large areas, stranding motorists and bringing all commerce to a halt. On the range, blizzards often result in the loss of livestock.
Among the most famous blizzards are two that occurred in 1888. In January, a blizzard raged over the Great Plains, from the Dakotas to Texas. Winds of up to 60 mph (97 km/h) were recorded and temperatures dropped below 0 F. (18 C.) as far as central Texas. More than 220 persons are believed to have died. In March, a blizzard swept through the northeastern United States. An average of 40 inches (102 cm) of snow fell over southeastern New York and southern New England. New York City was paralyzed with snow drifts ranging up to 30 feet (9 m). It has been estimated that more than 400 people lost their lives in the disaster.