Since moving to Minneapolis, I've come to appreciate the problem of snow storage—what do you with all the the snow once you've shoveled it up, and what happens to the inevitable giant mountains plowing creates? It's a serious, annual logistical problem for snowy places that continues even though the global land and surface temperature for last January was the fourth hottest on record. Regional variation. It's a bitch.
In Helsinki, Finland, 20,000 truckloads of snow plowed from city streets throughout last winter was stacked into a huge pile, which is only now finally melting away. Just in time for next winter. The pile was measured at 27 meters (more than 88 feet) high in April. Last week, the height dipped below 1 meter (3 feet), which was enough for the local newspaper to declare victory.
Of course, when you have a snow pile that big, things get lost in there. So the melting process has been a bit of a treasure hunt ...
As the months have passed since April, the vanishing pile has revealed from its bowels a whole host of interesting and strange artefacts: at least some jeans, a concrete "pig" as used to deter drivers from using a street, flower boxes, and plastic spades and shovels. Almost at the death, just recently, a digger driver working on the pile unearthed two motorbikes.
Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, International Edition: The End is Nigh—Maununneva snow pile down to just one metre
Image: I couldn't find a shot of the Helsinki snow pile. This one is from Syracuse, New York, in a file photo from the Syracuse Post-Standard. Syracuse's own snow piles have lasted into mid-August in the past.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.