Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow clearing

Sorry for the post lapse. I've been burning the candle at both ends for the last two weeks or so, and, frankly, haven't had much to talk about or report. Just the same-old, same-old ... and a lot of snow.

One of the hardest things to communicate about St. John's in the winter is the sheer magnitude of the snow accumulation. Because of the nature of the city, with its fairly narrow streets, sidewalks basically disappear after the first big snowfall. So do cars parked at the roadside. The ploughs do a very good job of clearing the streets in pretty short order (most of them), but because there's not a lot of space for the snow to go, it gets heaped up in massive berms and inevitably encroaches on the road to the point where some streets are effectively reduced to a single lane. It's a good thing people are generally polite and courteous: driving along any residential street at this time of year involves taking turns with the oncoming traffic through the bottlenecks.

And then comes the snow removal: a slow, systematic process of closing off streets and reclaiming the streets and sidewalks from the snow. A caterpillar digger scoops the snow out and piles it into a dump truck. The results are rather dramatic: whereonce were unruly mountains of snow are now seemingly precisely machined cliffs ending at the sidewalk, perfectly perpendicular to the ground.

My question is: where does the snow go? Where is it carted off to? Is there a snow landfill outside the city? A snow dump? Or is it tossed in the ocean?

Here's my idea: we should find a cliff on the sea north of St. John's and manufacture our own glacier there ... a small but compact glacier formed by the sheer weight of the snow dumped there. Then, in mid-May, when tourists begin showing up looking for icebergs, we shove this glacier off the cliff, thus guaranteeing at least one iceberg per season. Also, I'll finally get to see an iceberg ... it's a source of some bitterness to me that global warming really seems to have kicked in just in time for me to move to Newfoundland, and the only icebergs I get to see are in postwards.

9 comments:

towniebastard said...

It is actualy dumped into St. John's harbour, although the idea of a glacier has merit. I suggest builing in Mount Pearl, though....

No reason, other than a little glacial erosion could only help the place...;)

Mandy said...

yep, harbour.
it's kind of interesting to be sitting in, say, cora's early-ish in the morning and watch the procession of green trucks filled with snow go by. it seems fairly efficient, but the sheer volume of snow makes a long go of it.
as a pedestrian, may i add how scary it becomes walking to the school...or even to the corner store??

Dallas said...

Despite its size and comparably larger/wiser streets, I think Montreal has the same problem. But, I was lucky enough to see what they do with the snow. Giant dump trucks of snow are filled to the brim, and driven off to the other side of the tracks, er canal. Right by the Lachine canal is the "snow dump" you wondered about. And its mountains are impressive. Yesterday, however, the dump trucks did not arrive in time, so exiting my campus building after only being inside for an hour, involved shoving a door against 3 inches of packing snow. Walking around town means being stuck behind precious elderly ladies on the narrow footprint-made walkways. It's a winter wonderland alright.

maxdm said...

i think your blog is just great.

Chris in NF said...

Why, thank you. Always very pleasant to get positive feedback -- even when I haven't been as attentive to posting as I perhaps should be.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Dr. Lockett, you need to do some site-based research on the iceberg question, as just a few days ago a physical geographer here in iceberg-free (but CN Tower-flying-ice-chunk threatened) Toronto told me that because of global warming 'berg numbers in the vicinity of Newfoundland should be on the rise, presumably becuase they're carving off Greenland at an even more rapid rate. Maybe they're taking a different route?

Matt

Chris in NF said...

I've heard that ... I've also heard that, while calving in greater numbers, the ice is smaller and doesn't make it as far south as previously -- perhaps exacerbated by the fact that the farther north the ice retreats, the farther it has to come.

But wait -- the CN Tower is throwing ice at people? It was only a matter of time before it went bad, that tower ...

Anonymous said...

All the snow goes into the harbor and the coarse salt goes with it! But thats the least of the harbor issues there is a reason theres a "Harbor bubble"

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