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Meteorological wonders: snow squalls | Schnack’s weather blog

The winter season is upon us, so let’s take a look at a topic that may arise right here in the Hawkeye state! It could be a snow squall and it can be very dangerous if you get caught in a snow squall on the roads.

You could be driving on a smooth road and all of a sudden the visibility drops dramatically. You don’t want to be on the roads when a snow squall hits because you can literally only see a few hundred feet in front of you. Perhaps less. This is when things can turn deadly in the blink of an eye and hundreds of vehicle stacks can occur.

Snow squalls can form when the environment is very unstable near a passing front. High snowfall rates can be achieved easily, where 2 inches can fall in as little as 30 minutes. A calm, cold day can turn into a blizzard in just a few minutes. Having gusty winds and a decent amount of moisture on the surface certainly helps spread an event like this.

Snow squall warning

Snow squall warnings have only been around for a few years, but now these alerts can be sent right to your phone. Because these situations can arise fairly quickly with few warnings, alerts are issued a few minutes before an event and can last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The warning is issued for reduced visibility to only a quarter of a mile or less, slippery roads and heavy blowing snow. A warning has been created for this particular event due to the dangerous road conditions it can cause.

What is a Flash Freeze?

Something that can occur simultaneously with a snow squall is lightning frost. This happens when a snow squall covers frozen roads with snow. Once the front is past, temperatures drop rapidly, causing any liquid on the roads to freeze. This phenomenon can also cause major travel problems.