Blizzards are well known by the public to create several inches of snow with strong winds and low visibility. According to the National Weather Service, a blizzard is a winter storm with sustained winds of at least 35 MPH, leading to blowing snow causing lowered visibilities of one quarter of a mile and lasting for a minimum of 3 hours.

There is another type of blizzard that is not as well known, but are common within flatter areas. These blizzards are called “ground blizzards.” Ground blizzards are like regular blizzards because they also result in high winds and low visibility, but they do not produce new snowfall amounts. A ground blizzard blows fresh snow off the ground, quickly creating whiteout conditions. The more snow on the ground, the worse the whiteout conditions can become.

To see if a ground blizzard will likely happen, forecasters look at satellite imagery for snow on the ground and surface analyses for arctic cold fronts, which help produce high sustained wind speeds and lower temperatures. Anyone that could be at risk of a ground blizzard and has to go outside should plan to bundle up as much as possible.