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A Starkblast is a severe storm, that in many ways is similar to a freezing derecho. Characterized by severe, sustained, straight-line winds and extreme cold, the starkblast begins in the polar latitudes of Mid-World. As described in The Wind Through the Keyhole, a starkblast begins as a polar cyclone resulting from a collision between a polar air mass and a much warmer southern air mass. Starkblasts appear to be channeled and intensified by encountering the path of a Beam, resulting in a narrow swath of focused, devastating winds and frigid temperatures.

The only areas starkblasts have been described as occurring on are along the path of a Beam: once in Gilead (beam of the Lion), once along the beam of the Bear during Roland's telling of the events of The Wind Through the Keyhole, and once during the events of Roland's tale along the beam of the Lion (the one encountered by Tim Ross). These are the only described starkblasts, although it is implied that there have been more.

All starkblasts follow the same characteristics and telltale signs of approach: they are first preceded by a run of unusually warm weather for a particular season. However, as the storm comes closer, there is a series of thudding sounds, which has been speculated to be trees imploding on themselves as the starkblast comes upon them. Soon enough, the wind speeds pick up and the temperatures drop well below freezing. Anything not secured by construction (such as a building of stone or other solid build) or magic is torn from the ground and taken up by the fierce gales, regardless of weight. The main dangers of the starkblasts come in the form of the sub-zero weather (which is said to be able to freeze birds solid in mid-air), and the ferocity of the winds, which can either rip apart anything unfortunate enough to get caught outside or impale hapless victims on tree branches or flying debris. Unless sheltered by some means, starkblasts are fatal to those caught outside in them, including dragons.

Starkblasts are associated with unusual billy-bumbler activity, as the animals seem to be able to sense one coming well in advance of the storm's actual arrival. Billy-bumblers will begin by facing north frequently as the starkblast approaches. As the storm draws nearer, billy-bumblers will start up a kind of dance and being to frantically chase their own tails. The starkblast also seems to entrance them, as the billy-bumbler Oy is seen to remain outside in the midst of one despite the danger. Only the touch of another being (Jake Chambers, in this case) is able to snap Oy out of it, although the billy-bumbler reacts with some aggression as a result.

Roland Deschain and his Ka-tet encounter a starkblast in The Wind Through the Keyhole. Roland vaguely recognizes the signs from Oy and the weather, soon enough connecting the dots and realizing what was coming. As result of this terrifying storm, the tet takes refuge in a giant stone building in an unknown town by the River Whye.