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The weather reports indicated that we were in for a winter storm with high winds out of the east, which can be a problem, especially with most of our protection in the north and west of the cattle lots. Whenever it is calving time and we get such a weather report, we take it seriously and do everything to prepare. Of course, the weather report can always be wrong, which it often is…except for the wind part, and they always seem to get that right. In any event, the guys moved pregnant cows into areas where they could best be protected, made sure all tractors and vehicles were full of fuel, and hoped for the best.

Inside, I made the usual preparations. I placed working flashlights in about every room, set out some candles and matches, filled containers with drinking water and filled the bathtub with water so we could flush the stool in the event of a power outage. I have done this numerous times throughout a winter only to find it unnecessary, but thankful to have prepared nonetheless.

This time, the weatherman was right. Record snows were predicted for the Colorado Rockies and east, heavy rains in parts of Nebraska, and a mix for most of western and southern South Dakota with high winds out of the east. They were on target. We had hours of slow, drizzling rain, then heavy snow, so fortunately our ground should be well saturated to start the spring grass, and unlike many of our neighbors, our power remained on during the whole duration. While I was being thankful for this, I got to thinking about how thankful I am for our modern weather forecasts.

I like to look at my grandmother’s old diary just to see what was going on in her life on the same date, only years ago. Today (as I am writing this) it is March 16. On March 16, 1941, my grandmother (who lived on a farm near Mound City in Campbell County, South Dakota), wrote: Sun. Very cold. Blizzard hit in nite very sudden. Dropped 46 degrees. Baked some pies.

She didn’t have to worry about the power going out, because they did not have electricity, cooked and warmed the house on an old wood cookstove, and their water came from a well with a hand pump in the yard. She also was a rural newspaper correspondent, and on March 15, 1943, entered the following: Mon. Wrote items but weather got bad so pa didn’t mail them. Fixed some chicken, a cake and molasses cookies. March 16: Tues. Very bad blizzard. March 17: St. Patrick’s Day, blizzard very bad all day. And on March 18: Thur. Wind went down weather got better. Pa got mail. I can just imagine how little warning folks had not so many years ago. In fact, there was little or no warning before some of the famous tri-state area blizzards, such as the blizzards of ’49 and of ’52. The lack of forecasting weather was also the cause of many deaths of people and livestock, as people were often caught unaware of impending storms.

Many people were posting items on social media chastising the weather forecasters when they did not get snow as soon as was predicted, didn’t get as much as predicted, etc. I don’t know if they were disappointed that their area did not get hit as bad or worse than others, or were just wanting attention, but I, for one, appreciate those weather reports whether or not they predict worse conditions than what we receive. All we need to do is think about the not-so-many years ago when there was no weather forecasting, no television or social media to help spread the word of an impending storm, and be thankful for today’s weather reports.


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