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Monday, August 29, 2016

Writing About: Blizzards



Another disaster I highlighted in my 2015 A to Z Challenge was blizzards. Most northern states and Canada experience blizzards and snowstorms. The threat of a blizzard arises every winter in these places, so it’s not a stretch to think a fiction story set in the north during the winter may include at least a snowstorm that cancels school for a day or two, but with our current hostile weather a strong blizzard isn’t out of the question.

Now if you write a blizzard into your book it should either be a major plot or at least last for several chapters (3-4).

Image from Pixabay


Here are a few things to remember if you ever write about 
a blizzard:


- Weather Reports

Your characters should tune into the weather every morning and night. Even if you don’t detail a whole weather report, you can have your character hear something in the background or tune in for the highlights.

- Storm Preparations

Your characters should be ready for a snowstorm with a stock of firewood, water, canned goods, blankets, and warm clothing. Snow tires and shovels are also a must. Plus, a generator since snow and ice can knock out power easily.

- Blizzard Names

Just like tropical storms and hurricanes have names, blizzards also have names. To make the storm real and to give it personification, give the storm in your story a name. You don’t even have to follow the name already selected and waiting for a storm, but come up with your own, as I did with Hurricane Sabrina in Hurricane Crimes.

- Snowfall

Describe the snow as it begins to fall and have your character watch it get higher, creeping up the porch steps, burying the mailbox, and turning everything white.

- Snowdrifts

Wind is a big factor in a snowstorm. When the wind is strong, the falling snow can be piled into drifts that can cover houses.

Image from Pixabay

- Cold

During a blizzard, endearing the cold is probably the hardest part. Even if you have a fireplace, the house is still incredibly cold. You have to bundle up and move around to stay warm. Have your characters do the same.

- Boredom

The next biggest hurdle after dealing with the cold is overcoming boredom. When you’re trapped in a house with no electricity and you have to wait days for it to stop snowing, cabin fever sets in. Card games and board games are popular time killers. Reading, writing, and drawing by candlelight (or electric lanterns) are also activities that’ll take up time. Have your character struggle to find ways to take up the time. And if they’re not alone, this would be a good opportunity to share family moments or let new lovers get to know each other more.

- Digging Out

Once the blizzard passes, it comes time for the digging out process. This is never fun or easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to dig a path from the door to the driveway. Then, of course, the driveway has to be shoveled. But you won’t be going anywhere until snowplows clear the streets. And when it gets warm, lets not forget all of the melting snow...flooding.

Image from Pixabay

Blizzards can add excitement to a winter story and give your characters a chance to bond. You will also have fun bonding with them while you write these scenes.



QUESTIONS: Have you ever been in a blizzard? Tell me about it. Is there a detail not in this post that is important? Share it.


69 comments:

  1. Back in 1985 there was a blizzard here in Texas. 13 inches of snow fell in our area. My friends and I were in San Antonio, and drove back to the Hill Country during the height of snowfall. We crept along at 10-15 MPH. The only other vehicles we saw on I10 was an occasion semi also creeping up and down the snow covered hills/highway. I have some beautiful pictures. But like all snowstorms that happen here (we get a dusting every few years) it didn't last long. In a few days it had all melted away. Personally, I'm not a cold-weather person. I don't mind when we get snow because it'll be gone in a day or two. But living up north and dealing with REAL blizzards? No my cup of tea.

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    1. I'd love to see those pictures.

      Dealing with blizzards wouldn't be my cup of tea. I like it when Florida gets cold because I hate the heat, but my body can't handle the cold.

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  2. Whilst temperatures are soaring how cooling it was to read your excellent post about blizzards. It was fascinating to read as I recall we had a bad blizzard many years ago. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Yvonne.

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    1. That was my goal, Yvonne. It's HOT here, too.

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  3. You hit on all the important details. I've not been in a blizzard, but some might consider the heavy snowfalls in Canada to be so! My husband's first Christmas in Canada with me visiting my family, it snowed three feet two nights before Christmas. He was sure we were going to be snowed in for a few days, but nope. Everything was shoveled out and plows cleared the streets before noon. Down here in southern Indiana, they get a half inch of snow and think it's a blizzard! *LOL*

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    1. Excellent! And I've never even been in a blizzard. ;)

      Half an inch of snow is a blizzard. That made me laugh.

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  4. I experienced blizzards when I was younger and lived up North. As a kid, the snow and time off from school was always fun. But now I am so glad I live in FL and don't have to deal with any of that. Of course, every place has pros and cons. :)

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    1. Exactly. I live in Florida as well. And to me, the heat is a con. Big con! lol

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  5. Been there, done that. The only way I want to do it again is through reading. LOL
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. Reading about a blizzard, or any disaster, is much better than going through it in real life.

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  6. When I lived in the Midwest, we had several blizzards. Once the snowdrift reached the roof of the house. It was wild to look out the sliding glass back door and see a wall of snow.

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  7. Yep, definitely been in my share. Damn snow piles up higher than the roof in some of them. Then when they plow it gets even higher.

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    1. I'm not usually claustrophobic, but I think in a situation like that I would be.

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  8. I hate blizzards, and having to drive through them. Living in Upstate NY, it's pretty inevitable to go through blizzards, though we've been pretty lucky this past winter. In early October 1987, we had a freak blizzard that knocked out power lines and surprised everyone.

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    1. I wouldn't be able to drive through a blizzard. I wouldn't even attempt it. lol

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  9. Great, now I'm shivering ;-) Though I've never experienced blizzard conditions here in Arizona, the first and last time I spent a winter away (Smokey Mountains) I nearly got frostbite trying to save my burning home with snow at 8 below. It was then that I determined I was not cut out for snow country - ha!
    You've mentioned some pertinent aspects that would surely validate a story of being in a blizzard. Though I fear my characters would hit the dusty trail for home ;-)

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    1. Frostbite? Yikes! That's not good. I couldn't imagine how horrible that must've been. A fire is one thing. A fire during 8 below is awful.

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  10. When I was a kid in the 70s we had a blizzard. The main thing I remember about it is I didn't have to go to school for quite a while! And when I did go back we only had to go half-days because another school was sharing out building due to their heat going out. I wouldn't want to go through a blizzard as an adult but as a kid it was fun. :)

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    1. Years ago, after a big hurricane damaged a school here in FL, two schools had to combine for a while. It wasn't my school, though. Thank goodness.

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  11. You've established yourself as an authority on how to write about natural disasters!

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  12. Our part of Canada - southern BC on the west coast doesn't get blizzards, but we do get snowstorms depending on where EL Nino is in its cycles. I once had to walk home (15 miles) with two coworkers when we had a massive traffic problem with ice underneath the snow. Took us 3 or so hours to get home and I could barely walk the next day (walked in boots and work clothes. A 39 car pileup- sliding into each other and big MAC trucks also sliding had stopped traffic in the place we worked. It's was better to park our van and walk. I felt like a pioneer walking in that weather. Anyone who needed to be crossing bridges in our area just waited out the weather. . .

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    1. Gosh. 3 hours to get home. And in the cold. That's not fun.

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  13. Oh yes, we've both been in our fair share of blizzards. We usually have one here about once a year. Our own tip: if your character works, don't forget to have their boss call in the morning and ask, "So, I know there's 42 inches of snow on the ground, but you can still make it in to work, right?"

    (Oh, of course! Let me just hop in my snowmobile...)

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    1. That's a perfect tip! I forgot about working and how bosses expect you to come in no matter what.

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  14. We get several blizzards every winter, but here they're not treated as a big deal. No one stocks up on supplies or anything. They're just a fact of life.

    I never knew blizzards had names! I've certainly never heard of one named in Canada...perhaps in the States?

    Ice storms are a variation that's a lot more feared around here, just because of the damage they do.

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    1. But what if the power goes out and you're stuck? You'd need supplies then.

      It might just be a thing in the States. The names for 2015/2016 were after gods from mythology. :)

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  15. we have had over 2 feet of snow at once, 2 months of snow every week and very cold temperatures, but nothing that would be a blizzard during my stay in CT, just before we came, there was one...i find just snow over an inch impossible to deal with

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    1. I'd find just one inch impossible to deal with...I'm a Floridian. ;)

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  16. Since I don't even know snow, I doubt I'll attempt to write about a blizzard. Now, 80 degrees for Christmas? That I know.

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  17. I've never written about a blizzard, but it might be interesting. All kinds of scenarios come to mind. Great ideas, Chrys. Thanks. We don't have a lot of snow, but one Christmas it snowed so much all air flights were cancelled (our son was coming in but had to stay home), the highways were closed, and churches and people took in stranded travelers until the roads were cleared.

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    1. All kinds of scenarios come to mind for me, too. ;)

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  18. Thankfully Jamaica is a tropical island and blizzards are as real to us who don't travel as Santa Claus. So until that day I can say blizzards are not my problem. Thank God. Oh and I have a great Blizzard Name. Slasher or Dr. Ice. See what I did there?

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    1. I can see what you did there. ;) I like Dr. Ice.

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  19. I lived through the Blizzard of '77 and that image you have is from that blizzard. I went to school that morning and our principal heard the weather report and sent us home. We got home just in the knock of time because the snow started and lasted for 3 days with heavy winds. I remember looking out and seeing nothing but white. We were lucky because we never lost our hydro. We were listening to C-How a local radio station and we could hear all the emergencies...people trapped in their cars, the elderly without power and getting colder. I remember one dumb woman calling , freaking out because she didn't have her cigarettes and wanted someone with the snowmobile to get her some. I had never heard before or since, a radio DJ get so angry and tell her off like that lady was yelled at ..at that moment. What was strange, just like a hurricane, there was a brief hour where it was sunny and calm. My dad went half way down the Hwy before he had to walk to get to the store to buy some food and, yes, cigs. When he got back, it started back up again. We were lucky again because our driveway was clean of drifts! I was out of school for 2 weeks because, being a one storey and flat roof, was completely gone! They had to dig it out!! I remember having fun climbing up the drifts and sliding down them but had to duck under the hydro wires because the drifts were higher than the wires. What we do when we are young. Some people died and were found in their cars. I have been in other blizzards but this was the biggest

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    1. People can be really stupid. Especially smokers. lol (No offense to the smokers our there.) Blizzards do have a lot in common with hurricanes. It's just one storm is warm and the other is cold. Thanks for sharing your experience with me!

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  20. I live in the south so we don't have blizzards here, thankfully. While attending law school in Michigan I drove (well I was the passenger) through some pretty scary snow storms,, but never a full blown blizzard. I can't even imagine the devastation. We get hurricanes and floods and they are frightening enough. Maybe you'll write about floods next. I enjoyed this article. I learned more than I ever learned while living in Michigan. It was quite a thorough and in depth post. And scary enough to keep me home if ever in jeopardy of a blizzard.

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    1. I'm glad we don't have blizzards down south. Do you live in Florida, too? ;) I recently did a post all about Michigan as well.

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  21. For a Florida Girl, you've done well! Having lived in Upstate NY, Michigan and outwest, I've been through many. One thing you forgot is the wind--and how the snow can blow sideways, the banging of sleet against glass panes, the snow that finds it's way through the cracks at the window seal (I lived in an old house in NY, which had steam heat.

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    1. Thanks. I did mention the wind under the "snowdrifts" part. Those little details are things you'd definitely would have to know from experience, which I don't have. ;)

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  22. Ah, Chrys, Australians can only dream...but i did train it through a blizzard once, heading from Brussels to Luxembourg. The camera went mad, and the other passengers thought I was nuts!

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    1. I wouldn't want to go through a blizzard in a train. Yikes.

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  23. I like it when a writer writes about the weather so beautifully that it makes me feel cold though it's summer. :)

    Great ideas here.

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  24. Hi Chrys - I've experienced a few here - not many, but enough to remember ... I've written about our 1962/3 winter - which I was very aware about. Blizzards are frightening ... and can give a mirage - or alter a structure's outline ...

    Well done on all the points and everyone's comments - cheers Hilary

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    1. I imagine a blizzard is just as scary as a hurricane. I don't know which one I'd rather go through. Neither! haha

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  25. If the power goes out, it's the opposite of a hurricane. I've never been in a blizzard but I've experienced two snowfalls that dumped one foot of snow really fast - 20+ hours here in NC and overnight in NM.

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    1. It's amazing how fast snow can come down, isn't it?

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  26. Snow is so dramatic and powerful, a blizzard would make a great basis for a story. Great tips!

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  27. Hey Chrys,

    This may well be the coolest post you ever posted. Must go now and find the poor lizard in the blizzard.

    Gary

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    1. My coolest post. I see what you did there. haha

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  28. Great posts! In business travel I've experienced 2 blizzards. The last was in Kentucky. Flights cancelled, hotels packed, and 2 feet of snow overnight. Never lost power so it was an adventure, but I missed my daughter's last ever flute recital by 5 minutes.

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    1. Experiencing a blizzard during business travel would be a pain.

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  29. Never been in a blizzard but have been smack bang in the middle of flash flooding in Herefordshire, England. Scary stuff when nature has a tantrum. Great post, Chrys.

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    1. Flash floods are awful. And to be in the middle of one? Terrifying.

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  30. I'm glad there's never many extremes here in Idaho. Yeah, we've got a lot of smoke from forest fires, and houses burn down around here, but blizzards don't happen in the Treasure Valley.

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    1. That's good, but I know fires pose a different threat.

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  31. Been in many blizzards. My most memorable one happened in the 90s during middle school in NYC. Now NYC can handle their blizzards but that particular one practically shut the entire city down. Even though the buses were running they only came around once almost every two hours. Trust me, that's shocking. Even more shocking was that the feet of snow was so high it hadn't been plowed yet. So when me and my brothers went out of the snow and had to go up the hill, I fell right in it. And I mean, fell right in. I sunk so deep into the snow that when I crawled my way out I looked like a snow cone but without the syrup.

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    1. A snow cone but without the syrup. That's a great visual.

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  32. I've never experienced a blizzard. But you gave great tips and advice. Thanks.

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  33. Sometimes we read in stories and it reads like a weather report. You have good advice Chrys.

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