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Winter warmup welcome

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The cold weather is getting really, really old, along with all the snow piles that have popped up intermittently around the community, prompted by snow removal crews looking for a place to store the white stuff for the interim until it can be hauled away or better yet, it warms up significantly, and melts away on its own.

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The latter might be wishful thinking, but there is promise of warmer conditions this weekend, yes 30 degree temperature ranges, if that qualifies as 'warmer' in your scheme of things. One weatherman even went so far as to attach a blazing outdoor barbecue grill to the graphics for his forecast.

It does certainly appear like we've experienced more than our fair share of the cold and snow, but nonetheless, it's an inevitable fact of winter and one that all of us in this area are pretty well prepared to deal with.

One comment I've been hearing repeatedly the last several weeks in that regards, pertains to the efficiency of West Fargo street crews, who have done an outstanding job in keeping our roadways cleared of the snow, as well as prepping them with sand when icy conditions present themselves.

No easy task, given the fact the City now takes in over 9,000 acres, compared to about 4,500 in 2002, because of the annexation that has occurred in the past several years. This equates to approximately 289 lane miles of roads and almost 15 miles of 10-foot wide bike paths, making for a much larger area for crews to service and conduct snow removal.

The cold weather also seems to be the perfect catalyst and transmitter for the good old flu bug, when in actuality one would think it would have the opposite effect, freezing out all those nasty little, fast-moving germs.

In a way, the weather is a contributing factor because during the winter months, people spend more time indoors and are often in close contact with each other, which allows viruses to spread more easily.

Lately, we've been hearing the term influenza a lot. Influenza is a respiratory illness with fever, cough and sore throat caused by the influenza virus. If you come down with this, symptoms can last up to a week.

It's estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the population contract influenza each year, and complications of influenza and pneumonia contribute to the deaths of nearly 400 North Dakotans annually, most of whom are older than 64. However, a large number of influenza cases occur in children younger than 10, many of whom require hospitalization.

To help prevent the spread of any type of flu, individuals are encouraged to get a flu shot; wash your hands frequently with soap and water (still one of the cheapest and easiest ways to protect yourself against illness); cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing; and stay at home from work, school or recreational activities when you're ill.

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