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Forum Editorial: Nice work in season's first blizzard

As Northern Plains storms go, the first blizzard of the winter of 2008-09 was a doozy. It had all the ingredients of one that will be remembered: howling wind, sub-zero temperatures and up to a foot of snow.

As Northern Plains storms go, the first blizzard of the winter of 2008-09 was a doozy. It had all the ingredients of one that will be remembered: howling wind, sub-zero temperatures and up to a foot of snow.

As the storm cranked up Saturday night and Sunday morning, it seemed as if the entire region shut down - schools, businesses, everything. But by Monday morning - wonder to tell - highways had reopened and major thoroughfares in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo and environs were cleared of drifted snow. The pre-planning done by city, state and county road crews paid off. Every available piece of equipment was put to work moving snow. As soon as conditions allowed, the trucks and graders were out plowing. The coordinated effort resulted in passable major streets and highways by early morning Monday.

Of course, not every street was opened early. Most residential neighborhoods remained plugged by deep drifts late into Monday and even today. There are literally thousands of miles of streets and avenues to clear, and it takes time to get to all of them.

But overall, the work done by road crews for this first big storm of winter was as efficient as possible.

The forecasters

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We would be remiss if we did not praise the good work of broadcast weather forecasters in the run up to the storm. The meteorologists and their staffs on television and radio were spot on with the blizzard forecast. They tracked the storm for several days before it reached the Plains. What sometimes seemed like breathless hype about a coming blizzard turned out to be an accurate forecast. They got it right regarding the start of heavy snowfall and where the snow would be heaviest. They called both the speed of the wind and the intense cold the wind would carry into the Red River Valley. Advisories and warnings were issued early enough for people in the region to prepare.

Weather forecasters, especially the personalities on television, are easy targets for criticism when a forecast misses. Weather is so important to daily life in this part of the country that an inaccurate forecast - or even a less-than-perfect forecast - is unforgivable. But when they get it right, they deserve praise. They saw the blizzard coming a week ago; they said when it would strike; they warned it would be a dangerous storm; they predicted, almost to the hour, when it would end.

Nice work in blizzard No. 1. Here's hoping there is no No. 2 this season.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board

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