What is a Snow Squall?

A snow squall is a short-lived burst of heavy snowfall, usually accompanied by gusty winds. This leads to a rapid reduction in visibility. 

A rapid reduction of visibility combined with a burst of heavy snow leads to treacherous travel conditions. Roadways quickly become slick, leading to high speed wrecks and pileups.

NWS has recently added a Snow Squall Warning alert, in effort to reduce squall related accidents. According to NWS, snow squall warnings are issued when radar or satellite and/or reliable reports of snow squalls meeting or exceeding one or more of the following conditions:

  • Visibility 1/4SM or less in snow with sub-freezing ambient road temperature
  • Plunging temperatures behind an arctic front sufficient to produce flash freezes, along with a significant reduction in visibility with falling and/or blowing snow.

When this criteria is met, the following alert is issued:

There is no safe place on the highway during a snow squall. It is best to avoid or delay travel until the squall passes. However, if you’re already on the road when a snow squall warning is issued, it is recommended to reduce your speed, turn on your vehicles headlights and leave extra distance between you and the car in front of you. Avoid slamming on the breaks. With the roads being slick, this will lead to loss of vehicle control.

Check out some snow squall videos:

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