If you have witnessed or experienced chilled winds of snow blowing with a very strong force and high speed (35 miles per hour or more), then you have a firsthand account of a snow blizzard. Blizzards have three aspects: very low pressures, freezing temperatures and high wind speeds. All these aspects adversely affect human, animal and plant life.
Blizzards and Human Life
Thick, snowy winds during blizzards make it very difficult for people to see for at least a quarter mile at a stretch. The low air pressures and temperatures also can cause breathing difficulties, hypothermia (extreme drop in body temperatures) and frostbite. Depending on severity, blizzards can cause large scale destruction to lives and property. Food and water scarcity needs to be dealt with as well. The Great White Death or Great Blizzard of 1949 was the worst series of blizzards that the USA has experienced in recent history. More than 100 human lives were lost across the Midwest. The snow deposited after a blizzard can be extremely hard to plow away disrupting travel and traffic for days together. In order to adapt to blizzards, people of the blizzard country (central Canada and mid-western USA) build sloping roofs for their houses to allow the snow to fall off without accumulating on top of houses.
Blizzards and Animal life
Like human beings, animals also experience grave danger during blizzards. They can be stranded in places without food and water. Severe low temperatures pose life threatening situations to pets and farm animals in specific. Post blizzard cleanup also means plowing out pathways for pets. During the Great Blizzard of 1949, United States Air Force personnel had to air drop hay to save livestock. Close to 1,500 tons of hay and fodder were dropped to prevent the death toll of cattle and sheep from reaching more than a million.
Blizzards and Plant Life
Trees and plants exposed to blizzards rarely survive the extreme cold temperatures. Forceful winds and just 0 degrees Celsius can have the same effect as temperatures of -35 degrees Celsius. Fruit cultivation, floriculture and crops can face complete whiteouts and debilitated growth. In order to adapt, people in blizzard prone areas often plant wheat crops in winter. The snow covers the ground and germination begins when melting snow irrigates the crop in spring.
What Happens in a Blizzard?
When areas with low air pressure and high pressure are adjacent to each other, air tends to move from high to low pressure areas. There is a simultaneous rise of cold air to higher regions of the atmosphere, forming snow clouds. The resulting snowfall, air movement due to pressure changes and the rotation of the earth combined cause a snow cyclone of large speeds, which are factually, blizzards.