The wind suddenly kicks up, forcing blinding snow across the region and closing down roads. Then phones squawk an alarm and a voice says, "Snow Squall Alert."

"What's a snow squall?"

Who else should we turn to other than Meteorologist Don Day of Day Weather? Glenn Woods, of 650AM KGAB Radio in Cheyenne, had him on the air to explain.

Day explained that a snow squall is a sudden, heavy snowfall, with strong gusty winds driving it. In the past, you may have called it a whiteout or blizzard. They are usually short-lived and fast-moving.

List to Glenn and Dan's chat from November of 2018:

Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service

The National Weather Service describes snow squalls like this:

"Snow squalls, often associated with strong cold fronts, are a key wintertime weather hazard. They move in and out quickly, and typically last less than an hour. The sudden white-out conditions combined with falling temperatures produce icy roads in just a few minutes. Squalls can occur where there is no large-scale winter storm in progress and might only produce minor accumulations. Snow squalls can cause localized extreme impacts to the traveling public and to commerce for brief periods of time. Unfortunately, there is a long history of deadly traffic accidents associated with snow squalls. Although snow accumulations are typically an inch or less, the added combination of gusty winds, falling temperatures and quick reductions in visibility can cause extremely dangerous conditions for motorists."

The Weather Service says that if a snow squall warning is issued for your area,

  • Avoid or delay motor travel until the squall passes.
  • If you're on the road, you should slow down, turn on your headlights and hazard lights and allow plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • It’s also best not to slam on your brakes. With slick/icy roads, this could contribute to the loss of vehicle control and also increase the risk of a chain reaction crash.
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