Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrating A Blizzard

One of the pleasures of living in the north country is the occasional holidays that happen when a blizzard comes through the area. Yesterday was Blizzard Day here in lakes country. The announcement of school closures triggers a batch of other closings. Actually the weather brings about effective closure of almost everything as the roads get progressively impassible.

For those of you who don't have the joy of these random holidays or flee the area during this time of year might enjoy a review.

1)While snow fall is assumed to be a part of a blizzard that is a fallacy. There does need to be snow or other materials available but it does not have to fall during the blizzard.

2) Per the definition in the AMS (American Meteorological Society) Glossary, there are very specific criteria for blizzard conditions:

Winds of at least 35 mph (frequent gusts are generally considered to qualify), and visibility reduced by falling and/or blowing snow to less than 1/4 mile. The strict application is for the wind and visibility criteria to be met for at least three consecutive hours. (From Weather Channel Site)

I remember in the mid 1950s a year with almost no snow fall in eastern North Dakota. The available snow and soil from the exposed farm fields combined with the prairie winds of 40-50 mph produced blizzard conditions resulting in huge drifts that may have been 80% soil and 20% snow.

Yesterday we did receive 4 to 5 inches of new snow and the wind was in the required range, about 40mph gusts. Visibility was reduced to less than a block at times here in our neighborhood (see photo above). By mid afternoon Interstate highways were closed from Jamestown, ND to Fergus Falls, MN and from the Canadian border to the South Dakota border. Major state highways were also closed.

Late in the afternoon my wife, our dog and I bundled up in our storm gear and ventured into the storm to traverse the road that circles our peninsula neighborhood (photo to the left). The adventure was successful and we were able to estimate the work that would be required to dig out in the morning.

No comments: