In order for the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard, the winter storm must meet three major requirements to be upgraded to a blizzard.
- Sustained winds at 35 mph or higher
- Blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than 1/4 mile
- Conditions that last at least three hours
A ground blizzard is defined as loose snow or ice that is blown by the strong winds behind the storm, according to NOAA. Ground blizzards do not accumulate new precipitation, instead the snow or ice that is leftover from the blizzard is blown through the air.
A 1977 blizzard in Buffalo, N.Y., lasted for 25 hours. Most of the snow blown into the city came from the frozen surface of Lake Erie. At least nine people died while they were trapped in their cars.
In case of a snow emergency, keep a fully charged flashlight, first-aid kit, blankets and extra food on hand. If you are traveling, make sure you let someone know where and when you will be arriving. Try not to travel alone. Keep a tool kit, windshield scrapper, shovel, jumper cables, flares, knife, matches and first-aid kit in your car if possible. Also, keep your gas tank nearly full.
In order to be prepared for a winter storm or blizzard, make sure you are up to date with your local weather forecast. For more information on the New England blizzard, read "Blizzard to Bury New England at the End of the Week."