A winter storm is an event in which varieties of precipitation are formed that only occur at low temperatures, such as snow or sleet, or a rainstorm where ground temperatures are low enough to allow ice to form (i.e. freezing rain). In temperate continental climates, these storms are not necessarily restricted to the winter season, but may occur in the late autumn and early spring as well. Very rarely, they may form in summer, though it would have to be an abnormally cold summer, such as the summer of 1816 in the Northeastern United States.
The winter storm which crossed the USA in 1993 was by many measures the storm of the century. No winter storm so intense had ever affected so vast an area inhabited by so many Americans. Meteorologists coined the term "snow-a-cane", since it combined the characteristics of a hurricane and an blizzard in one vast weather system (although it fell somewhat short of record snow falls for blizzards or wind speeds for hurricanes taken separately). The winter of 1993-94 was the occasion for 12 blizzards in the USA, shutting down rail networks, airports and many government offices and businesses.