What is a snow squall?

Today, a narrow band of snow swept through the Twin Cities. At one point, the wind and heavy downburst of snow brought I-94 northwest of Minneapolis to a close thanks to a multi-vehicle accident. The Weather Service then issued a snow squall warning, but what is a snow squall, exactly?

In laymen’s terms, I would describe it as something similar to a severe thunderstorm, where the precipitation isn’t necessarily the most noticeable feature to the storm. In the northwest Twin Cities metro, for example, there were 40-50mph winds associated with the quick burst of snow. Buffalo, Minnesota reported 2.5 inches of snow in 90 minutes.

That’s another thing about a snow squall. The “squall” is important, because it is akin to a squall line, as with thunderstorms. There is a leading edge, and a well defined end, particularly as the storm is at it’s strongest. Instead of a bloated mass of snow showers you get with a typical winter storm, it’s a quick, intense line.

The primary impetus for the National Weather Service issuing a snow squall warning is the reduction in visibility, such as was the case in the accident seen above. The strong winds and heavy snow lead to white out conditions, in which visibility is at or near zero. They are targeted like a thunderstorm or tornado warning, to a very specific part of the storm, even if the entire line stretches for a longer distance.

This was Minnesota’s first ever issuance of a snow squall warning. They more frequently appear east of the Great Lakes, and are quite the curiousity in Minnesota.

Coming soon…

Halloween should be the scariest thing this time of year, between COVID and the election, I’m not sure that will be the case. Hopefully, aside from Delta, the weather won’t be added to the list of scary things this autumn.

Kingston, New York

Santa Rosa, California

Wenatchee, Washington
Road Trip from Santa Rosa to Wenatchee

Hanford, California
Road Trip from Champaign, Illinois to Hanford

Coming soon…

We’re headed towards a busy stretch of forecasting, and we’ll see a lot of the country as well, which will provide us a good look at the country as a whole. I think it could be fun!

Napa, California
Road Trip from Lewiston, Maine to Napa

Road Trip from Napa to Cumberland, Maryland

Durham, North Caorolina
Road Trip from Cumberland to Durham

Wheeling, West Virginia

Bay City, Michigan

Louisville, Kentucky

Santa Barbara, California

Coming soon…

Here we are, in the middle of road tripping season, and I think there are several people eager to get out on the open road. Let’s move around the country here in July.

Road Trip from Longview, Texas to Fargo, North Dakota

Road Trip from Kennewick, Washington to Greenville, North Carolina

Fayetteville, North Carolina
Road Trip from Greenville to Fayetteville

Road Trip from Gadsden, Alabama to Reno, Nevada