Public works crews around the state are trying to take advantage of the recent break in the stormy weather to clear out more snow. Ames Public Works operations supervisor, Dave Cole, says his crews are working to widen out roadways and cut down some of the snow piles that block the view of motorists.
Cole says it’s not just the snow — but also the cold snap — this winter that has caused problems. Cole says in past years there’ve been some big snows, but between them there was some thawing that melted down the piles. He says this year there hasn’t been any melting and they started running out of places to put the snow.
Ames is like many cities which have large lots where they haul snow from downtown areas and dump it. Cole says they don’t dump the snow in rivers or streams because of the “public perception” is that it might contaminate the water with salt.
He says the perception is that the snow is hauled from the streets and it has to be full of salt, but he says in reality there is very little salt in the snow. Cole says they want to be safe and if there is any salt don’t want it to contaminate the water. Cole says there’s also little possibility the snow piled up from other areas would melt down and cause flooding.
Cole says the majority of the snow is absorbed by the ground and doesn’t run off. He says the big truckloads of snow get packed together pretty good and that causes them to melt slowly. He says some of the piles can stay through June as they do get quite deep and it takes awhile for them to melt away. The temperatures have been slowly warming and Cole says he looks forward to the warmer days and sunshine and what it can do to the snow.
Cole says one day can change the appearance of a place. Cities are asking residents across the state to help with the snow clearing by keeping vehicles off the street during daylight hours. They also say clearing out storm drains helps melting snow to rain off the street and not refreeze at night.