Running Out of Space for Snow to Go - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Running Out of Space for Snow to Go

Posted: Updated: Feb 17, 2014 10:00 PM
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It was a record breaking day here in the Quad Cities, as we officially surpassed the snowiest February on record.

The previous record was set at 20.7 inches in 2011 and 1994.

The snow total for February 2014 so far has now hit 21.8 inches.

So far, this winter has brought a total of 53.3 inches of snow, and without a major thaw, the first snow of the season is still on the ground in some places, with subsequent snowfall piling on top.

All of the snow we've seen this winter has really added up to some big challenges for snow plow crews. Public works crews around here say they're running out of places to put it.

"It's getting harder and harder to push the snow back," said Doug House, Moline Municipal Services General Manager.

In many places in the Quad Cities these days, you'll find snow banks along streets that are two and a half or three feet deep.

"And the snow plows are only about three foot tall so it makes it difficult for the snow plows to throw the snow up over them," House explained.

It's the same problem you have clearing your sidewalks and the same problem private plows have clearing parking lots: After a certain point, there's too much snow in the way and no space left to push it to.

"When you get into record types of winter seasons like we are this year, it becomes a challenge to find places to put the snow," House said.

"We try and clear it. We end up, you know, you just keep moving around the snow from one place to another and there's really no acceptable place to put it," he added.

With the mighty Mississippi River running right through our backyard, the idea of dumping excess snow there and watching it float away could be mighty tempting. But, that's simply not an option because of all of the oil and pollutants found under the snow on every city street.

"When you collect the snow up and you move it, if you put it in a waterway, that's contaminating the waterway, so we're not allowed to put snow in the river or in other direct drainage areas," House said.

For public works crews, the only choice is to do the best they can to push what they can off of the roadways.

"We have some talented people and the best equipment around, so we're really fortunate," House pointed out.

"We just go out and we knock it down a little bit at a time and we keep chomping at it and we'll get them done," said Darrick Calhoun, a Moline Public Works employee who was taking his first break of the day at around 4 p.m. on Monday, more than eight and a half hours after he was called in to help clear snow.

It is a job that would be a lot easier if everyone parked their cars off street whenever possible.

When they don't, the cars can get plowed in and large piles of snow left on the road until they move:

"By getting their cars off the street, it will help us get the snow off the street," House said.

"Don't make it any harder than what it already is," Calhoun agreed.

Public works officials in our area say parking off street to allow crews to plow all the way to the edge is important not only for traffic flow, but also for flood prevention.

When the snow starts to melt, the water will need somewhere to go, so it's critical the drains are cleared.

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