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Brock: Winter wisdom comes from experience

Harvey Brock

They say there is a fine line between genius and insanity, and since I consider myself one of the five smartest people I know, it makes sense that I have done some crazy stuff in my life. Take, for example, a trip I took the middle of April this year to Spokane, Wash.

Going to Spokane in the spring may not seem OK, but taking a sports coat and dress shoes as the closest things to winter apparel made it crazy.

I was never a Boy Scout but I have spent my adult life in the Dakotas and Montana, and certainly should know that April blizzards are common and one should be prepared.

Imagine the folks in Hettinger, who started the week with temperatures in the 60s and, by Friday, they were getting stuck on Main Street as 3 feet of wet, heavy snow fell.

The only thing I know for sure about the weather is that no one knows what it will be, it can change in a moment and even a few miles difference in location can make a huge difference. Here in Dickinson on Friday, we had a couple inches of snow and it made the roads dangerous.

Still, just over 50 miles to the south, a tragedy occurred as thousands of cattle died in the massive fall blizzard.

Whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned northerner, it is easy to ignore the dangers of the unpredictable severe weather that can happen seemingly without notice. I know from experience that if you live up north long enough, eventually a blizzard or ice storm will trap you at home and result in a loss of power and services. I have learned the hard way to keep enough food water and supplies to last for at least 72 hours on hand.

The technology used to predict storms these days is light years better than ever before, but only good if we pay attention. When the National Weather Service predicts a severe winter storm with dangerous conditions, it is for good reason.

Speaking from experience, I know when the state or the city issues a no-travel advisory or, worse yet, and emergency travel only advisory, that means to stay put.

Being in the delivery business, I spend a lot of time on winter roads and should have known better than to go to Spokane, or anywhere for that matter, unprepared for the inevitable winter storm without extra warm clothes and car weather safety kit.

I can assure you those items were back in my car at Labor Day, proving to myself that I'm an indeed one of the five smartest people I know.

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press.

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