After going through much of the winter with below average precipitation, Central Oregon was badly in need of more snowpack.

This past weekend's severe snowstorm may go a long way towards helping alleviate drought concerns.

Crook County has not seen a comparable storm in the last 25 years. The last storms of equal consequence were in 1973 and 1983.

Although the snow was much-needed, that doesn't mean that the storm is without its share of risks.

The Crook County Road Department, Prineville City employees, and Oregon Department of Transportation have done a good job of removing snow from main thoroughfares. However, the same cannot be said about many side streets.

Treacherous driving conditions may remain for several days. On Monday, the Crook County School District was on a two-hour delay, while schools in Madras were cancelled due to road conditions.

Side roads are filled with packed snow, which is likely to become rutted and perhaps even more difficult to drive in during the days ahead. In addition, snow will soon begin to melt then refreeze into ice in the evenings, leaving the possibility of black ice on the roads.

We urge drivers to use caution in the days ahead. Please slow down, keep a safe distance between cars, and watch for ice and other driving hazards, including pedestrians who may be walking on or crossing busy streets.

We also wish to remind everyone that driving is not the only activity that poses a possible safety threat. There has not yet been a traffic fatality in Central Oregon caused by the weekend's storm. However, there have been three deaths directly related to weather. An elderly couple was found dead in their driveway near Sisters, while another man died from an apparent heart attack while shoveling snow from his driveway.

Walking can even be risky in the current conditions. City ordinances require individuals to keep the sidewalks in front of their residences or businesses clear to make walking as safe as possible. We suggest that you use proper equipment, pace yourself, or hire professionals to take care of the snow removal.

With a little courtesy, some patience, and common sense, it should be possible to make it through the storm's aftermath none the worse for wear. Please be safe.

Contract Publishing

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