Recent winter storm serves as a reminder to heed Mother Nature

Recent winter storm serves as a reminder to heed Mother Nature By Guest Commentary From The Press & Dakotan Winter sent its first icy slap across the region earlier this week, and the perennial question is: Were we ready?

Though some anticipate the first snowfall with dread and others with glee, snow, slush and ice are inescapable in this area. We always know we'll be hit sometime between October and April.

But it seems inevitable that the first snowstorm catches us off-guard, whether it comes trick-or-treating at Halloween or "blesses" us just in time for a white Christmas. That unpreparedness shows in several ways: numerous fender benders, cars stuck in ditches or just high-centered on a drift. Perhaps during summer we forget how to drive on the ice and snow. Maybe we weren't aware of how bad the conditions were. Sometimes we're just curious to see how bad it really is out there.

But these are inadequate excuses. When no travel is advised, the only good reason to be out is for an emergency situation.

Emergency does not mean you ran out of milk.

Emergency is not needing to pick up your paycheck — the banks are closed anyway.

Emergency is a life-threatening situation. Otherwise, STAY HOME during blizzards.

But too often when the snow falls, common sense is swept away by our prairie winds, which in this storm gusted up to 63 mph Tuesday. People who head out during nasty weather just get in the way of city and county workers trying to clear the roads for emergencies.

Technology has given us a false sense of security. Four-wheel drive vehicles are NOT invincible. Cellular phones do not ensure immediate rescue. If you can't see where you are or spot any identifiable landmarks, rescue vehicles will not be able to come get you.

As the city continues its cleanup of snow and fallen branches, keep your cars off the streets as much as possible. This not only makes the city crew's job easier, but benefits you in one of two simple ways: It either saves you towing and ticket charges if they tow your car, or it decreases the amount of shoveling you'll have to do if they plow around your car.

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