Here in Sioux Falls, SD, home base of Gadgetopia, we get a fair bit of snow. But when it comes time to clear it from the streets the snowplows just push it aside. With heavier snows the crews come back & haul the snow away from the downtown area and the major streets, but for the most part we’ve got ample room to let the snow sit until warmer weather melts it.
I’ve often wondered how bigger cities like New York handle this problem, where the ratio of pavement to open ground is less favorable. I was talking with a friend about this the other day, and he said they used snow melting machines; I had no idea such a thing existed, so I did a little searching on the ‘net, and sure enough, there are equipment manufacturers, like Trecan Combustion, that specialize in these things.
Basically, the melter is a diesel-powered boiler that uses a combination of heat and agitation to melt the snow. There are several sizes of mobile units; Trecan provides a handy online Claculations (sic) page that will tell you how big a melter you’d need for a given amount of snowfall. There are also stationary units, which are used most often at airports and places where the snow wouldn’t need to be hauled very far. Trecan even custom-built a few self-propelled MetroMelters for the city of Toronto, which not only melt the snow, but pick it up from the street first.
At first glance it would appear that these things would be horrendously expensive to operate, but they’ve done their homework and will show that when compared to hauling the snow away, melting it onsite is by far the less expensive option. Of course, piling it up and letting Mother Nature do the job is cheaper, but that option isn’t for everyone.
No word on whether anybody makes residential-sized units. That may be a fun home-brew project for me & my boys; I think I could get them fired up about it, since they’d be the ones to benefit most from it!