Blizzards certainly affect the economy both for good and for ill. Blizzards are severe snowstorms usually accompanied by high winds and what are called "white-out" conditions. In white-out conditions, traffic grinds to a standstill. People are force to stay home from work; while emergency workers are often tasked with working long hours. Police officers and rescue workers may be called upon to put their lives in danger rescuing those who end up stranded on the roadways. Often blizzards cause (or are associated with) traffic accidents as drivers lose control of their vehicles and end up sliding all over (or off of) the roadways. This results in a boon for towing companies and provides lots of work for those with 4-wheel drive pickups. All of these factors have an economic impact on people and businesses as the ordinary is temporarily suspended while "the snow and the blow" seems to dominate people's lives.
Assessing the economic impact of a major blizzard or series of blizzards is exceedingly hard to do. So many aspect of the economy are affected - so many, in fact, that one must make some kind of a list. Overall, income is lost, as more people will stay home that those who will be forced to venture out into the storm. Trucking companies will often park their rigs, which will halt the shipment of goods and merchandise right in its tracks. Often people will be stuck at work, or stuck in the town where they work, unable to get home, and thus will need to make lodging arrangements. Those who are traveling will also seek out lodging as well. In all, this might be a blessing for those in the lodging business, while at the same time will result in a strain on one's personal budget.
The loss of work will also affect many families expendable income. This is especially so if a series of blizzards come through. Usually there is the loss of at least one day of work - though in severe blizzards there may be a loss of two, or perhaps even three days of work. Families thus might find themselves being forced to cut back in their discretionary spending for a couple of weeks. Families with lower incomes may even have to scale back for up to a month or two. Of course, other families may thrive, and may find themselves with additional money to spend. This may help to keep spending close to the norm - and, except in the most dire of situations, will most likely not have significant impact on most day-to-day businesses.
If there are numerous blizzards, however, cities and counties will begin to feel the pain. There will be additional vehicle expenses, and there will be additional spending for things such as gravel and salt and sand. Plowing of roadways is a necessarily expensive proposition, and the additional fuel costs will eat a county and city's budget alive. Certain costs may have to be passed on to the states; or, as is the case now in North Dakota, they are passed on to the Federal government. And then when the snow is passing away, there may yet be even additional costs and considerations involved.
Take the current Red River Valley flood, for instance. The series of blizzards which passed through North Dakota has made the entire state a disaster area. Numerous towns and cities have had to improve their dikes in order to keep the flood waters away. This has involved all aspects of government, from the FEMA, to the National Guard, to longer hours for city council members and for mayors. The costs alone will end in the millions, and this is not to consider the effects of the fear and the stress. There are homes that will need to be repaired as well, not to mention those which have been so damaged that they will end up being destroyed. Ultimately the cost of all this flooding can be directly attributed to blizzards.
Thus the economic impact of blizzards is as far-reaching as it is long-lasting. Who would have thought that they few blizzard would end up driving people from their homes and costing into the millions of dollars. And we have just touched the tip of the iceberg. We have not discussed the field which are yet under water so that no spring planting can be done. Thus, there is really no way to calculate the costs, nor is there a way to accurately access the impact - for blizzards impact every aspect of our economical life from the moment the skies begin to pour forth their snowflakes.