The Differences between Low Altitude and High Altitude Snow Storms

Differences between low and high altitude snow storms tend to be higher wind velocities, more snowfall and lower temperatures. Blizzards are a danger, as are avalanches in the higher altitudes. High altitude snow storms have large accumulations that may last throughout the fall and winter months. Icy conditions are common.

Mountain snow storms close roads and make great ski areas. People who live in these places have to stay in their homes for weeks and months until the snow melts or the snowplows come and clear the roads. It is not unusual for several feet to fall during a week. In a short period of time, large snow drifts emerge. Shoveling snow is a requirement here if a person wants to get out.

Low altitude snow storms do not usually produce much snow –  just cold temperatures. The accumulation only measures in inches and melts away in a day or two. Mixtures of rain and snow make travel difficult. These produce snow days which give children a chance to sit back and enjoy the snow. They are inconvenient and produce some bad accidents. Residents only need to do a minimal amount of shoveling here.

Due to the fact that snow accumulation in high elevations is large, animal and vegetation life is not as numerous as in the lower elevations. Above tree line, where much of the high altitude snow storms occur, the terrain is rocky with few trees and no grass. It is dry in the summer and covered in snow during other times of the year.

Visibility during snow storms at high elevations is usually very low. Often, snow is so dense that one can’t see very far at all. The clouds dump large amounts of snow so that going out is not easy.

Intense sunshine sometimes follows snow storms at high altitude. This can cause skin damage to hikers and those working outdoors. At high altitudes, the sun is more intense and can burn. Rapid changes in weather occur. This makes the avalanche danger rise. The high winds produce blizzards. Avalanches occur when movement at the top of a cliff or peak overload them. They can start small about the size of a snowball and grow as snow, ice, and additional debris sticks to it.       

Snow storms in the high elevations produce most of the drinking water in the lower elevations. Reservoirs, lakes, and mountain streams are in the mountains where most of the snow accumulates.