Wednesday, January 27, 2016

After the Storm

Things are slowly getting back to normal here in the National Capitol Region as we continue digging out from the storm that has been nicknamed "Snowzilla." The federal government and most school systems are are slowly coming back to life; most main roads are drivable, but many of the side streets that connect to them are still either snowed in or barely passable (my street is officially passable by Virginia Department of Transportation definition*); buses are still hit-or-miss (mine isn't running, the only other one I can take is running a Saturday schedule, is about a mile's walk to the next stop, and just delivers me to the Metro station); and the Metrorail system is more or less back in operation. We were supposed to get some rain yesterday, which would have helped to melt some of the accumulated snow, but it didn't arrive and yesterday's melted snow froze overnight, which adds the danger of black ice to the usual misery of the morning commute). I think that by tomorrow, most of us will be back at work and Congress will be able to resume screwing up the country without Mother Nature's help.

But here's a question that isn't always considered in the wake of a major snowstorm: what do you do with all the snow?

Consider that Washington, DC, measures about 100 square miles, with the NoVa and MD suburbs adding another hundred or more square miles ... and that an average of, say, 18 inches of snow fell across that entire area. That's what scientists would call a butt-ton of snow. Plowing it is one thing, but where do you put it once the plowing's done?

This was the subject of an interesting article by Joe Heim in the Washington Post. In short, it seems that huge fleets of giant dump trucks pick up loads of snow plowed out to designated intersections, bring it to the parking lot at RFK Stadium and dump it in enormous mountains

that will later be melted by the Snow Dragon, an enormous snow-melting machine,

filtered, and then fed into storm drains. They should be done by, oh, next Christmas.

And here's another interesting aspect of the recovery from the storm: many modern kids don't seem to want to go out and earn money by shoveling snow. Washington Post reporter Petula Dvorak wrote about this today in an article titled "Kids Choosing Xbox Over Snow Bucks."

Many years ago, when the solar system was still forming and I was a strapping young lad, there was big money to be made in every season: spring was for weeding new gardens, summer was for mowing lawns, autumn was for raking leaves, and winter was for shoveling snow. Unfortunately, a lot of young people nowadays aren't into manual labor. Most of the people who are shoveling snow for money seem to be older, homeless, or low-wage workers ... I saw not a single young person out hustling for money to shovel out driveways and sidewalks - other than their own - in our neighborhood. Over the last three days, I probably shoveled a ton or more of snow, with the fear of hernias and heart attacks looming over my 64 year-old carcass ... it would have been worth it to me to pay a younger version of myself to do at least part of it.

Oh, well ...

Just as a last comment before I go and do some chores, here's a look at the new Winter Storm Threat Level System that will be going into effect for the next round:

Have a good day. Stay warm and dry, and just remember that last summer was the hottest ever recorded ... it won't be long before we're thinking that some snow wouldn't be a bad thing.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* VDOT’s goal is to have an 8-10 foot wide drivable path (the width of an average plow blade), but warns residents that streets considered officially passable may have patches where the plows couldn’t scrape away a layer of ice.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

I'm glad things are slowly getting back to normal in DC, and that you got through the snowfall okay. It was interesting to read what Washington does with the snow. But what would happen when Washington would get the Super Bowl?

Bilbo said...

Angel, in the unlikely event that Washington would get the Super Bowl, it wouldn't be played at RFK Stadium, but at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. RFK is used for soccer games and some concerts and other events.

Big Sky Heidi said...

I'm glad you got through Snowzilla okay, Bilbo!

Linda Kay said...

Being from the Midwest, I can relate to the snow storms,as I remember one that was 18 inches. But never quite like what was dumped on Washington. The snow removal does become a problem. And I remember that once you had a driveway cleaned out, the plow would come by to clean the street and block your driveway again! Ugh!

Duckbutt said...

Shoveling snow is hard work, not for the faint.

allenwoodhaven said...

I recall that Buffalo often puts their snow on trains to cart it away. I'm from NY and MA, so am used to snow, but this storm was impressive. Around here in NJ we got over 30 inches. That's a lot for one storm!

Meredith said...

We got our share in Geneseo too.

Mike said...

I was out shoveling our 4 inches of snow the other night when a cop stopped at the bottom of my drive. I thought he was going to ask me if I saw something or someone. Nope. He said, "You need any help shoveling?" I said sure and he got out and started shoveling with me. Of course he wasn't there 5 minutes before he got a call and had to leave, but it was a first for me.