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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reflecting on Snow Management

Absence of Evidence, is Not Evidence of Absence.

This winter, we are still without snow as I write.  But I'm thinking about snow and lots of it after last winter's wrath.  It may still come as an avalanche in January.

Our society's recent expectation and low tolerance for anything except perfect, unfettered, snow free access despite living in a temperate climate where snow is a seasonal reality is a strange symptom of the neuroses of our times.  In it, we cheat ourselves and each other of good company, stories and real sharing in the light of a crackling fire.  Sustaining this delusion of perfect winter access at all costs creates jobs but perennial drain on limited public coffers.  Alas, with the horse long out of the barn, beyond view and hearing distance, it seems that there is now no turning back the clock.

The above photo taken over 110 years ago shows clearly how extreme snows could crown a main town street that was unpaved.  Notice the height of the man on centre, relative to the two boys on the right hand side.  In the spring rains of April, flooding was sure to follow leaving shop keepers scrambling to protect their livelihood.

For those of us who have ploughed winter roads, or lived in rural areas on 'dirt' roads in winter - cumulative 'crowning' or 'domed" roads of late winter are the most dreaded.  Irregular road surface and inefficient plough blades lead to snow on the road thickening with each successive storm, sometimes reaching a foot or more in depth.  If the ground beneath is frozen, all is well for a time through the main months of winter, but when the March rains begin the road becomes a 'mucket' of slush, 'smow', muck, 'smuck' or a glare of ice.  In the days before auto-mobiles were common, when spring break-up began, road conditions like these would cut and freeze a horses' feet.  Most people just stayed home for March and April.  It was a welcomed time of rest before the spring and summer work seasons.

1 comment:

  1. Well never in my life have I ploughed the snow off a road. Nor did I realize the perils and pitfalls of crowning or domed roads!! But then I've only lived in the Yukon where we never got enough snow to do much more than cover the ground and the banana belt in Ontario. I feel as if I have missed something! Wondering how you feel about hose heated sidewalks in Scandinavia, Mark! Surely an abomination! :)