Weather Thesaurus Entry: Blizzard
Posted by Angela Ackerman
However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).
A flurry of snowflakes, often flying past on the diagonal and combined with a cold, biting wind. Poor visibility and light quality, snow shifts and drifts, and the surroundings are obscured. Flakes build up quickly on hair and clothing, and ice crystals form on skin, freezing within minutes. Landmarks are often buried and heavy snowfall shifts the landscape quickly, erasing tracks and trails, making exposure to a storm very dangerous.
An ozone like scent, fresh & crisp air so cold it can cause pain in the nostrils
No taste, will bring down core body temperature quickly if eaten and not melted first.
Howling or whistling wind, tapping sound as flakes ping off clothing, raspy breath
Flakes pelt against frozen cheeks, cling to eyelashes and hair. Numbs exposed skin, pain in fingertips and toes, creates an exhausting chore to break a trail through accumulative snow drifts. Shivering, teeth begin to chatter and characters hug themselves to stay warm. Breath warms face briefly before sucked away by the cold. Dry, aching throat from thirst and cold. Wind will cut through clothing, chaps lips, forces eyes into a squint, watery eyes. Discomfort arises from snow drifting down collar of coat, into shoes and boots, and between mittens and cuffs.
Mood: A blizzard can provide a strong backdrop of isolation, either for a character or community. Extreme weather forces people together, which can create a volatile environment or an opportunity to confront issues. Blizzards tend to create a feeling of the outside world being held at bay, allowing characters to look inside themselves and their relationships. Readers focus on the immediate scene as characters deal with feeling trapped, which will bring out either their best or worst qualities.
Symbolism: Death, an impossible challenge, foolhardiness, isolation
Possible Cliches: Walking out into a blizzard unequipped as a way of suicide
OTHER: Blizzards occur in cold regions only. Temperature must be close to or below freezing at ground level, and is usually well below freezing. With the wind chill added, exposed skin can freeze after only a small amount of time, causing frostbite and possibly death. Visibility is so reduced that you cold be only a few feet away from safety and never find it. This type of storm can drop several feet of snow within a short period of time and may completely paralyze a populated area by knocking out power and making travel difficult if not impossible. When using a storm of this magnitude, do your research to make sure the severity of it fits your fictional setting.
Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.