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Old 11-23-2010, 12:25 PM  
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Blizzard Warning in Spokane

I had to look up what qualifies as a blizzard, and how is it different from whiteout.

Blizzard
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A blizzard is a severe storm condition characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, and heavy snow. By definition, the difference between blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have winds in excess of 35 miles per hour.[1] Additionally, blizzards must reduce visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less and must last for a prolonged period of time ? typically three hours or more.[2] Ground blizzards are a variation on the traditional blizzard, in that ground blizzards require high winds to stir up snow that has already fallen, rather than fresh snowfall. Regardless of the variety of blizzard, they can bring near-whiteout conditions, which restrict visibility to near zero. Blizzards have a negative impact on local economies and can paralyze regions for days at a time, particularly where snowfall is unusual or rare. The 1972 Iran blizzard, which caused approximately 4000 deaths, was the deadliest in recorded history.

The differences from a whiteout

Although the word "Blizzard" is commonly used to describe heavy snow and high winds, a blizzard should not be called as a "whiteout". Whiteout occurs mostly in the Arctic and Antarctic during the spring, when snow is still deep on the ground and there is lots of daylight, surprisingly calm weather and excellent visibility. Whiteout occurs when rays of sunlight are bounced in all directions between bright white clouds, especially a thin layer of overcast, and bright snow or ice. Clean snow and ice reflects nearly 85% of incoming light. Falling snowflakes, suspended fog droplets or ice particles in the air would make conditions even worse. In a whiteout, neither shadows, nearby objects, landmarks, nor clouds are discernible. For people experiencing a whiteout, their sense of direction, depth perception and even their balance may be lost. Land and sky seem to blend, and the horizon disappears into a white nothingness. Whiteouts trick pilots and travelers into believing down is up and far is near.
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Old 11-25-2010, 09:59 PM  
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Spokane, WA
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Some may argue that the storm we had on Nov. 22 was not a Blizzard - however, a colleague of mine was unable to get home that night because the visibility was so terrible she had to stop and get a hotel.

I think perspective may play a factor. Thanks for the warning.
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:43 PM  
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Spokane Valley, Washington
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A blizzard in the area would really be a substantive event. Not sure if it would happen this year, but as you posted it is quite possible.

J.Will
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