How well do you know the different types of snowfall?

WASHINGTON — Pop quiz:  Do you know the difference between a blizzard, a snow squall and a flurry?

Yeah, we were confused too.

So we asked Storm Team 4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer to lay it all out for us.

“A flurry is just when you see some snow coming down but it’s one flake here, one flake there,” he says.

“A snow shower … and it could be a light snow shower or it could be a heavy snow shower … but it comes down and you can definitely see that there’s a trend for snow falling from the air.  It’s not one snowflake here, one snowflake there, it’s snowflakes everywhere.”

What about a snow squall?

“A snow squall is something that comes through very, very quickly and snows very, very hard for a short time,” Kammerer explains.

He says most of the time in our area, snow squalls last 5 to 10 minutes, drop a quick coating of snow and then leave the area.

The definition of a blizzard is a storm with 35 mph winds, and visibilities of less than a quarter of a mile that lasts for at least 3 hours.

“Blizzards are very hard to come by in this area, we get one every couple years here around our region, except in ’09 and ’10 when we had three of them,” says Kammerer.

Read more about winter storms and how to prepare for them in this National Weather Service guide:

National Weather Service Winter Storm Guide

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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