Typical Iowa Blizzard May Have National Effects

Last week’s Nor’easter was a fairly typical “East Coast blizzard,” where incredible amounts of snow fell but few places actually experienced a true blizzard.  That’s because a blizzard is defined as a snow storm where blowing or falling snow reduces visibility to <1/4 mile and winds frequently exceed 30 kts (35 mph) for 3 hours or more.  Source.  Notice that snowfall accumulation is not part of the definition — in fact, no new snow needs to fall for a blizzard to occur.

Blizzards are dangerous.  Due to the low visibility and strong winds, people can get disoriented and die from hypothermia.  In an extreme example, the “Schoolhouse Blizzard” of 1888 caused 235 deaths in the Great Plains.

This week’s storm should not be that severe, though it will cause significant disruption.  Eight to twelve inches of snow is likely.  Blizzard conditions are possible in eastern Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  (Graphic below courtesy of the Des Moines NWS Office.)

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The effects of this storm could be felt nationwide.  The snow will begin Monday evening in Iowa.  This coincides with a statewide event that you might have heard about.  The weather conditions could affect voter turnout in southwestern parts of the state and possibly even Des Moines.  Will the blizzard Trump pundits’ expectations and allow someone else to Cruz to victory?  Might other political candidates feel the Bern?  I’m very curious to see what effects the upcoming storm has.

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