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"strong, sustained snowstorm," 1859, origin obscure (perhaps somehow connected with blaze (n.1)); it came into general use in the U.S. in this sense the hard winter 1880-81. OED says it probably is "more or less onomatopœic," and adds "there is nothing to indicate a French origin." Before that it typically meant "violent blow," also "hail of gunfire" in American English from 1829, and blizz "violent rainstorm" is attested from 1770. The winter storm sense perhaps is originally a colloquial figurative use in the Upper Midwest of the U.S.
severe weather condition that is distinguished by low temperatures, strong winds, and large quantities of either falling or blowing snow. The U.S. Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm with winds of more than 56 km (35 miles) per hour and enough snow to limit visibility to 150 m (500 feet) or less. A severe blizzard has winds of over 72 km (45 miles) per hour, visibility near zero, and temperatures of -12 C (10 F) or lower. A ground blizzard occurs when there is no falling snow, but snow is drifting and blowing near the ground