A snow squall lowers visibility and drops heavy snow.
Snow squalls – the quick and wintry traffic disruptor. November 21st is Snow Squall Safety Day and we’re going over what this entail and how to practice safe navigation if you are caught in one.
Snow squalls are quick-hitters, and they can come with or without a winter storm event, making them seem unexpected if you are not used to their sudden arrival. Snow squalls only last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes too, making them very different from a snowstorm which could last several hours to even days.
Snow squalls can drop moderate to heavy snowfall, quickly lowering visibility to white-out conditions and creating a dangerous travel environment.
Gusty surface winds and a moisture source create a snow squall, which can happen anywhere. The Great Lakes often see snow squalls before the lakes freeze. As cold winds pass over the lake, they pick up the moisture and drop it as snow.
This past weekend’s event across northeast Pennsylvania and western New York was considered a lake-effect snowstorm, but as the westerly gusty winds moved across the lakes, they brought snow as far south as the Mid-Atlantic with snow squalls moving through West Virginia.
A few snow squall warnings were issued on Saturday as a squall moved over northern West Virginia. Gusts as high as 35 mph and visibility as low as a quarter of a mile were likely. When you’re indoors, the snow squall can be a beautiful sight but driving in one is very dangerous.
When the National Weather Service issued the warning on Saturday, they encouraged drivers to find an exit or rest area to be away from other traffic and wait out the squall. This is to avoid dangerous accidents that can quickly turn into multi-car pileups, which are common during snow squall events.
You can be ready for snow events throughout the winter by staying up to date with your local forecast and heeding watches and warnings as they are issued. Awareness is key when it comes to winter driving.