Some of us like it and some of us don’t. Some people dream about it and to others it is a nightmare. The real problem can be once you get it how can you get rid of it. What I am talking about is snow. We have already had some snow in Western Oregon this season and the potential still remains. Just this past week the chance, slight though it was, existed.
With the many steep hills in Western Oregon snowfall makes travel very difficult. The ski areas have had plenty of snow this season for the skiers and snow boarders to play in and that’s a good thing. As I have mentioned before my philosophy is that I feel snow belongs in the mountains and if I want to see it I’ll visit the mountains, but it doesn’t have to come to visit me.
Cleaning up the fallen snow can become a nightmare for public works personnel all over the area. We’re not as prepared for the massive cleanup after a major snow storm as are the crews in the snow-belt areas of the country. We just don’t get enough big storms to warrant buying a large fleet of big trucks with plows and sand/salt spreaders on them because, for the most part they would be standing idle most of the time.
Our Eugene Public Works Department has a web page that give you updates with Ice and Snow Emergency Information. The page also has a snow route map available during storms.
A February 9, 2017 article written by Patrick Clark in Bloomberg pointed out that “The Snow Removal Business Is a Mess.” Businesses have to decide how to order and pay for winter snow removal on their business properties. If the parking lot isn’t cleared out the customers have no place to park and won’t fight the snow to patronize the business. Of course that can result in lost revenue. Business owners have to decide if they will hire someone to plow their parking lot by the hour, by the storm, or by the season. It is a tough decision to make.
The article pointed out that private plow services “rang up $14.3 billion in U.S. sales last year, according to market researcher IBIS World, with most revenue coming from clearing office, retail, and manufacturing properties.”
In our little part of the world major snow removal jobs are few and far between, but when they do occur they can be a big headache. Our Public Works crews do their best to prepare before the storm and clear the streets during and after the storm. Add in heavy snow, ice and wind and the cleanup becomes a monumental task. Sand seems to be the choice to take out the ice and snow to allow for better traction for area drivers.
When I was growing up in Rochester, New York rock salt was used to melt the ice and snow. The big problems with salt are the erosion of the pavement and the metal car bodies. At the Port of Rochester on the shore of Lake Ontario there was a pile of rock salt that stood over 50 feet tall and covered an area larger than a football field. The salt was brought in by barges and by the end of the snow season it was all but gone.
Now lesser corrosive means are more popular and are at least as effective if not better than rock salt. Since we have these storms so infrequently there is no need for what was a very necessary piece of equipment in the Northeast U.S. when I lived there. It’s called a snowblower. I remember when the really became popular. A driveway could be cleared of a couple of feet in about one fourth of the time it would take to do the same job with a shovel. The only time they were impractical was when it was windy. I’ll never forget seeing our neighbors snowplowing their driveway in the wind and having the snow blowing back at them so much they looked like snowmen with the snow sticking and freezing to them head-to-toe.
I feel lucky that I missed out on another snowstorm or ice storm last week, but there is still plenty of time before spring for that possibility to come to fruition. I sincerely hope not though.
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