Snow squalls are one of the most dangerous weather phenomenons.
The National Weather Service has began issuing snow squall warnings similar to tornado or severe thunderstorm alerts.
What is a Snow Squall warning?
A snow squall warning is issued in an area where a snow squall has potential to form.
"A snow squall is an intense short-lived burst of heavy snowfall that leads to a quick reduction in visibilities and is often accompanied by gusty winds," the National Weather Service said in a statement about implementing snow squall warnings in 2018.
"Sudden whiteout conditions and slick roadways can lead to high speed accidents with large pile ups that result in injuries and fatalities. This new warning aims to bring better situational awareness to drivers and mitigate impacts related to these squalls."
Along with snow squalls often come a flash freeze, which can quickly turn the highway into a dangerous place to drive.
"The flash freeze is what separates snow squalls from a run-of-the-mill snow shower, which happens all the time," said John Banghoff, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in State College, Pennsylvania.
"The flash freeze component essentially makes travel and controlling a vehicle next to impossible," said Jonathan Guseman, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in State College.
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What is the difference between a snow squall and a blizzard?
A blizzard is a winter storm that combines blowing snow and wind and results in low visibilities.
Snow squalls are brief and intense bursts of a snow storm, accompanied by strong winds.
According to the National Severe Storms laboratory, a ground blizzard can be creating from winds picking up snow that has already fallen.
"A snow squall often occurs along an arctic front and the plummeting temperatures behind the snow squall turn wet pavement into a sheet of ice, making snow squalls much more dangerous than snow 'bursts'," said Guseman.
Snow squalls are most common to the Great Lakes region of America.
Snow squall warnings are focused on localized areas, similar to a tornado warning.
How do you prepare for a snow squall?
The worst place a person can be during a snow squall is on the highway.
There is no safe place on the road in a squall, the National Weather Service states.
If you happen to get caught in a snow squall, the first thing to remember is to try and remain calm.
Don't make any quick or sudden movements, gradually lowering your speed over time.
Turn on both your headlights and hazard lights, and try to exit the roadway as soon as possible, without speeding.
The best thing one can do during a winter storm is avoid driving altogether.
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