When strong winds blow down trees, or just blow the garbage can down the driveway, I usually hear somebody say it was a tornado. In the same way, anytime it snows a lot, I hear the term "blizzard" tossed around.

A "blizzard" does have a formal definition: You need winds of 35 mph or more for at least three consecutive hours. And, the visibility has to be less than one-quarter of a mile because of falling or even just blowing snow.

If we stick to this definition, blizzards are very rare around here. In fact, the "Blizzard of '96" wasn't even technically a blizzard, since no "official" observing station reported the necessary conditions. Undoubtedly, though, there were places during that storm that did satisfy the definition. But most snowstorms around here are simply, well, snowstorms, not blizzards.

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