Snowstorms have historically plagued many states,
notoriously those located in the Northeast and Midwest.
Winter storms occur all over the country, but the
"Snowbelt," stretching across the Great
Lakes from Minnesota to Maine, receives the brunt
of winter storms. Just as the first settlers on
New England's shores struggled to survive the brutal
snowstorms, so do the inhabitants of today's metropolises.
Cities such as Buffalo, New York City, Milwaukee
and Detroit experience snowfalls that strand residents
in snow deep enough at times to be measured in feet
rather than inches. Following on the heels of a
severe storm in 1993, the recent paralysis experienced
along the East Coast during the storms of January
1996 provides an all-too perfect example of the
effect extreme winter weather can have on the nation's
Officially, the National
Weather Service defines a blizzard as large amounts
of falling OR blowing snow with winds in excess
of 35 mph and visibility of less than 1/4 of a mile
for an extended period of time (greater than 3 hours).
German settlers in Iowa originally coined the word
blizzard, coming from the word blitzartig, meaning
"lightning-like." European pioneers and
settlers were astounded by the severity of the winters
in the New World. Although accustomed to snow in
their homelands, they were newly confronted with
driving winds and freezing temperatures characteristic
of Snowbelt regions.