Snowmen on Brighton beach, 6 April 2008

A modern word, probably more or less onomatopœic; suggestive words are blow, blast, blister, bluster. The French blesser, to wound, has also been conjectured, but there is nothing to indicate a French origin. As applied to a "snow spell", the word became general in the American newspapers during the severe winter of 1880-81; but according the the Milwaukee Republica 4 March 1881, it had been applied in the Northern Vindicator (Estherville, Iowa) between 1860 and 1870.

Oxford English Dictionary