Whiteout is a weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow or sand.

Snow pertains to frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when it precipitates from clouds and accumulates on surfaces, then metamorphoses in place, and ultimately melts, slides or sublimates away.

Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy.

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The horizon disappears completely and there are no reference points at all, leaving the individual with a distorted orientation.

The horizon or skyline is the apparent line that separates earth from sky, the line that divides all visible directions into two categories: those that intersect the Earth's surface, and those that do not.

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Whiteout has been defined as: "A condition of diffuse light when no shadows are cast, due to a continuous white cloud layer appearing to merge with the white snow surface.

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol comprising a visible mass of minute liquid droplets or frozen crystals, both of which are made of water or various chemicals.

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No surface irregularities of the snow are visible, but a dark object may be clearly seen.

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There is no visible horizon."


A whiteout may be due simply to extremely heavy snowfall rates as seen in lake effect conditions, or to other factors such as diffuse lighting from overcast clouds, mist or fog, or a background of snow.

Fog consists of visible cloud water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface.

Mist is a phenomenon caused by small droplets of water suspended in air.


People can be lost in their own front yards during a true whiteout, when the door is only 10 feet away, and they would have to feel their way back.

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Motorists have to stop their cars where they are, as the road is impossible to see.


Normal snowfalls and blizzards, where snow is falling at 1 or 2 inches per hour, or where the relief visibility is not clear yet having a clear field of view for over 30 feet, are often incorrectly called whiteouts.

A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 35 mph and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more.

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