What is a Snow Squall and Why is it So Dangerous?

The National Weather Service in Chicago issued a snow squall warning Friday for portions of the area, altering residents of extremely dangerous travel conditions and wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour.

But what exactly is a snow squall?

A snow squall is defined as a short but intense burst of snow accompanied by strong winds that can produce whiteout or near whiteout conditions and is "a key wintertime weather hazard," according to the NWS.

Forecasters warn that serious injuries and deaths may result from people exiting their vehicles during a snow squall, explaining drivers may not see others or stop.

"Unfortunately, there is a long history of deadly traffic accidents associated with snow squalls," according to the NWS website. "Although snow accumulations are typically an inch or less, the added combination of gusty winds, falling temperatures and quick reductions in visibility can cause extremely dangerous conditions for motorists."

The National Weather Service in Romeoville tweeted Friday's snow squall warning was the second one ever issued by its office, with the first one being issued earlier this winter.

"We'll issue snow squall warnings when one of these squalls is particularly intense & may cause extremely difficult travel," the NWS said in a tweet.

A snow squall warning usually covers a small, targeted area, is typically in effect for 30-60 minutes and similar to tornado or severe thunderstorm warnings.

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