A question that naturally arises is Could a true blizzard really smack the Deep South?
The answer is yes. In fact, one did in the not too distant past. Remember “Superstorm ’93,” also called “The Storm of the Century,” in March 1993? Honest-to-goodness blizzard conditions raked areas from northern Alabama through the southern Appalachians (and as far north as New England.)
There have been other storms since then that have dumped healthy amounts of snow on parts of Dixie, including Atlanta. “Healthy amounts,” you understand, is a relative term in the South where, at least in the public’s mind, anything over a half-inch of fluff constitutes a blizzard. Case in point: SnowJam 2014, or, as dyed-in-the-wool Southerners called it, “The Weather of Northern Aggression.” Less than three inches of snowfall gridlocked Atlanta for several days in January. Many residents were convinced they’d weathered a full-blown blizzard. Nope, sorry. Not even close.
True blizzard conditions are tough to come by, even in northern climes. Heavy snow, in and of itself, does not constitute a blizzard. Even wind-driven snow doesn’t necessarily cut it. Meteorologists, bless their probabilistic little hearts, have a set of strict parameters that must be met for a snowstorm to be knighted a blizzard.
The real key is that the wind must be sustained at or frequently gusting to at least 35 mph while simultaneously being accompanied by falling or blowing snow that often reduces visibility to less than a quarter-mile over a period of three or more hours.
By the way, if you’d like to elicit a reaction from a meteorologist such as you’d get from fingernails scraping across a blackboard, refer to a storm as “blizzard-like.” There isn’t any such thing. It’s either a blizzard or it isn’t. If it’s close, it’s okay to refer to it as a “near-blizzard,” but absolutely not blizzard-like.
In my novel, there’s a fictional, post-Christmas blizzard that swirls into the Southeast. It’s the real deal (Boston-bred?) with slam-bang winds, white-out conditions, and a snow blitz that buries Atlanta in almost two feet of misery.
My hero battles his way through it and runs into a few other roadblocks, as well: some nasty outlaw bikers, and a pack of Western gray wolves that have escaped local captivity. Looking for a few thrills at Christmas? BLIZZARD should do it.