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Let it snow, let it snow, - grab the camera and go!

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As winter spreads across the state, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers two good ways to enjoy the weather, rather than bemoaning it.

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A "What's Your Winter?" photo contest and an online "Post-Storm Survey" offer opportunities for both artistic expression and practical input on an important safety issue. The photo contest is sponsored by the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEM) and the survey is sponsored by St. Cloud State University.

Photo contest rules at www.winterweather.state.mn.us encourage submissions from amateur photographers of all ages in four categories: Mother Nature, Winter Holidays, Kids in Winter, and Outdoor Winter Sports. All entries are posted online; the best will be considered for a variety of prizes.

"One way to avoid suffering in this weather is to find the beauty in it," says HSEM Director Kris Eide. "The images captured by these amateur photographers can be enjoyed by everyone."

The Post-Storm Survey, in its third year, provides insight into people's decision-making processes related to hazardous weather. The results will be vital to weather forecasters as they learn the best ways to communicate with their audiences. Responses are confidential, and results from previous years are available on the survey link at www.winterweather.state.mn.us.

"A winter photo contest with no snow is a hard sell, so we look forward to receiving new images this week," Eide says. "And the Post-Storm Survey is a great, free way for people to contribute to the effectiveness of weather forecasts all over the state."

The winter photo contest runs until February 28. The survey for the storm of Dec. 8-9 will be active through Saturday, Dec. 19.

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