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Dakota Days...

by Bill Mitzel


A little warm-up now and then helps

Certainly, winter intensity is a factor in survival. But likely a bigger factor is

duration. Most living things will endure short periods of pain, even the most delicate things... like butterflies, songbirds and ring-necked pheasants.

When winter begins early on the Northern Plains, life continues without much struggle. Continue that early winter for several months, cold and snow, and life will diminish.

While we visit the list of “average” temperatures and “average” snowfall in a given winter, there isn’t, in fact, anything “average” about the Northern Plains. Extremes are average.

Most scientists have been telling us for several years we’re in the midst of a global warm-up. Skeptics were plentiful, at first. Not so much any longer.

The world has endured gradually warming temperatures for two decades now, but the major component of that is extreme weather on all fronts. Heat, cold, snow, rain, tornadoes, drought, fires, flooding -- all in excess and strength. Scientists report that it isn’t going to go away unless we do something, like reducing our carbon emissions.

The northern prairies are excluded from some of those catastrophes, but not all. We have seen our greatest floods, heaviest snowfall, and record temps on both side of the heat and cold line since the late 1990s. Fact is, here in Dakota Territory, we’ve set more weather records in the last 20 years than all of history, as has the nation.

While we’re concerned with our daily lives, of course, we’re also concerned with our wildlife. As winter deepens, our concern for that resource expands. Most years we’re okay, but Mother Nature makes no promises.

As with most areas of the country, we live and die with our weather. It’s an intricate part of our lives. As mid-winter continues, we wait, we watch, we hope. A break now and then is life-saving.