What Does the Word “Blizzard” Mean and Where Did the Term Come From For a Severe Snowstorm?

The word blizzard didn’t mean a snowstorm until 1870, when a newspaper editor in Estherville, Iowa, needed a word to describe a fierce spring storm.

The word blizzard had been hanging around with no particular origin for about fifty years and was used to describe a vicious physical attack, either with fists or guns.

After its use by the editor, what better word to describe a violent snowstorm than blizzard?

In the U.S., a blizzard is defined by the National Weather Service as sustained winds or frequent gusts reaching 35 mph or above which causes blowing snow and visibilities of ¼ mile or less, lasting for at least 3 hours.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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