“This is stuff that is not floating in the harbor.”
July 7, 2015 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Remnant of Boston’s Brutal Winter Threatens to Outlast Summer
Now that it is July, it is easy to think of Boston’s record snowfall last winter as a bad dream.

These days, you can walk outside without dressing in multiple layers. You can see your car when you stand next to it. Even the subway is running (more or less).

But if you want a reality check, come to the Seaport district, where you will find an astonishing residual artifact from the glory days of February: a 12-foot-high frozen mound, a remnant of the record 110.6 inches of snow that accumulated in Boston over the winter.

Yes, some of that snow is still here. No, it has not all melted yet. Yes, it is July.
posted by Elementary Penguin (54 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wicked.
posted by srboisvert at 5:21 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Too bad they aren't putting it to more direct use
posted by one weird trick at 5:21 AM on July 7, 2015




Isn't that how you define a glacier?
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:26 AM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I guess this is the last gasp of the NYT's breathless reporting about those poor simple people up in Boston who are suffering so much with their primitive infrastructure.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:27 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trust me, this was a topic of conversation at the Fourth of July party I was at. It's not just the New York Times.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:28 AM on July 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


One person suggested it would all melt by Aug. 7, then dared add what few have expressed out loud: “Or maybe won’t melt before next snow comes, lol.”
How long before "lol" gets added to dictionaries as a word in its own right?
posted by stopgap at 5:29 AM on July 7, 2015


Whatever's left in that thing (and it sure ain't snow) appears to grow STRONGER from the heat. I'd snark about it, but I don't want to piss it off.
posted by Mayor West at 5:34 AM on July 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


There was a front-end loader out in front of my apartment doing utility work last night, and the noise gave me a nasty flashback to those endless overnights in February where the ballet of front-end loaders cleared away snow from in front of the school all. night. long.

I suspect the fact that we've had few very hot days thus far this year is helping the snow pile persist, but these things can last a surprisingly long time. I wouldn't bet on it not making it to the fall.
posted by pie ninja at 5:36 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Somewhere I have a picture of myself in high school, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, standing on a 10 ft+ high pile of snow somewhere in Yellowstone. The picture was taken on the 4th of July. Granted, it was a little higher up, but it was 80+ degrees out. It's not like we were above the tree line.
posted by COD at 5:36 AM on July 7, 2015


Also, there's a pretty good chance that my sideview mirror is somewhere in that seething morass, but I'm sure not going in there to look for it. The creeping ice horror, i̩͎͈̓͗͒ṭ̭̗̻͔̣̫̄ ̹c͕̩͙̰͖o͔͐͋͒mȅ̘̩̘̞͌ͮ͂ͪ̓̓͢s̢͔̹̈̃͗̇̊͛̇
posted by Mayor West at 5:40 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


This feels like a literal "kill it, kill it with fire" moment.

(if not for the aforementioned tons of detritus which the beast is surely shaping into an indestructible foundation)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:08 AM on July 7, 2015


"If city officials had heeded the cries of fed-up residents last winter and just shoved the snow into Boston Harbor, the now-showcase waterway would be clogged with more than 250 tons of bicycles, hubcaps and other detritus."

Yeah, what seemed like a simpler solution at the time of the crisis now shows how much worse it would have been to do that.

Long live SnowTrash Mountain.
posted by keli at 6:09 AM on July 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


All Hail the Snow Cloud.
posted by delfin at 6:13 AM on July 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


SnowTrash

Neal Stephenson fanfiction, in which Sangamon Taylor cruises around Boston in a snow-removal vehicle, sifting through the city's detritus on the trail of nefarious corporate goons who have manipulated the weather in order to hide their toxic crimes in urban glaciers?
posted by busted_crayons at 6:21 AM on July 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


<pedant>The debris in the mound is neither flotsam nor jetsam. For shame NYT. </pedant>
posted by Skorgu at 6:33 AM on July 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


New green startup idea: run refrigerant pipe through the concrete pad underneath an urban snow farm and use it to power cooling systems during the summer.
posted by xthlc at 6:36 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Back in February, I decided to make it my goal to lose 15 pounds by the time all the snow melted, assuming there would be some lingering snow piles well into spring. I forgot about it after a week or two. Good to know I still have time!
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:38 AM on July 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Growing up in Northern Minnesota, my dad used to talk about when he was a ranger in the Boundary Waters, and how he knew about a couple of lakes where you could find "snow in August" way, way out.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 6:45 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


How long before 'lol' gets added to dictionaries as a word in its own right?

Negative four years.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:46 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not ice, I suspect, it's dirt. The soot and smog replaces the ice crystals and that's what's left. We get that in Chicago all the time. Welcome to Climate Change!
posted by agregoli at 6:48 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's kind of funny that with one of the world's top schools for science and engineering nearby, they didn't find someone who could offer an educated guess on when it would all melt.
posted by indubitable at 6:49 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Back in 2008, BlogTO had a contest where people tried to predict when a "big brown mountain" of snow would melt completely. I can't find any later references to it than that article, but it was still going strong on June 15th.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:51 AM on July 7, 2015


I was in DC, NYC and Boston over Easter. DC was t-shirt and sunscreen weather. Boston still had a mountain of ice in the Target car park in Watertown that was higher than the building. The place looked utterly shellshocked.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2015


The debris in the mound is neither flotsam nor jetsam. For shame NYT.

Plowsam and scrapesam?

Anyway, the writer managed to get "gelid" out of that snowpile ("The gelid interior keeps any melting to a trickle"), which I'd never seen. I looked it up. It means "icy;extremely cold."
posted by notyou at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


On campus we have a few parking garages, and when they were cleared of snow the maintenance crew pushed it all down the sides (completely flattening a tree in the process). Those stuck around until late April, and I thought that was bad.

As with those snow mounds, it just made me picture a hard bitten detective being called to the scene of a discovered corpse, where a rotted arm is sticking out of a slowly melting pile of snow and debris.
posted by codacorolla at 7:00 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not ice, I suspect, it's dirt. The soot and smog replaces the ice crystals and that's what's left.

You'd think so, but it's not. It's covered in dirt and trash which the city is systematically removing over time as the pile reduces in size. It's also putting out quite a bit of meltwater, though, so there's snow under there somewhere.
posted by pie ninja at 7:02 AM on July 7, 2015


I don't understand why this frozen pile of filth does not already have its own twitter.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:06 AM on July 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


There is a massive one of these in Buffalo that I had the good fortune to visit last month left over from a storm that hit just before Thanksgiving. This photo really does not do it justice, but check out that little red thing to the left, it's a shovel. To the right, you can still see some visible snow/ice beneath a fine layer of dirt. Boston's is 12 feet high, this one is at least two stories. It's incredible. There was a local news story about someone finding a VCR in it.

(I just commented the other day in the niche interest thread about how I am really into debris piles left by natural disasters. GREAT POST, A++++, WOULD GLEEFULLY COMMENT IN AGAIN)
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:07 AM on July 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


tbh I am using that MeTa as a checklist
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:08 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mount Chipotle National Research Observatory.
posted by Wet Spot at 7:09 AM on July 7, 2015


I don't understand why this frozen pile of filth does not already have its own twitter.

@seaportsnowfarm
posted by pie ninja at 7:09 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The debris in the mound is neither flotsam nor jetsam. For shame NYT.

Snotsam?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:11 AM on July 7, 2015


This is how the world ends; a new ice age, from a direction we never saw coming. The glaciers came from the cities, not down from the mountains; each year the piles grew a little higher, lasted a little longer, until there was nothing left.
posted by nubs at 7:50 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cool, didn't know about the meltwater. Still, I don't find it so remarkable. It happens.
posted by agregoli at 7:58 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


@seaportsnowfarm

Now I'm sad that it's not the twitter I hoped for - one in which the frozen pile of filth was tweeting as itself, a frozen pile of filth in a melty uncaring world.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:59 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Partially as a result of this winter, we left Boston for good on March 28. It was still snowing. We're in the Southwest now. I'm never looking back.

On a serious note though, I really, really wish a temperate winter for Boston this year. If the Red Line fails permanently, there will be a lot of fucked over people and semi worthless real estate in Quincy, among other places.
posted by permiechickie at 8:17 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now that Boston 2024 doesn't look like it's going to happen, maybe all those public funds can get spent on improving infrastructure hahaha who am I kidding
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:24 AM on July 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Don't do that to me, Elementary Penguin!! I was so hopeful there for a second.
posted by Melismata at 8:32 AM on July 7, 2015


Now that Boston 2024 doesn't look like it's going to happen

I forgot about the olympics so I assumed this was a doomsday prophecy and it seemed perfectly natural and understandable to do so.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:49 AM on July 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I guess this is the last gasp of the NYT's breathless reporting about those poor simple people up in Boston who are suffering so much with their primitive infrastructure.

Somebody had to take a break from tsk tsking California for their drought
posted by one_bean at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Now that Boston 2024 doesn't look like it's going to happen

Don't tell anyone but that snow mound is the first step towards the Boston 2022 Winter Olympics movement.
posted by Spatch at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sounds like they've built a big pile of Pykrete.
posted by penguinicity at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This stuff is old hat for those of us who have lived in truly cold climates. I grew up in Winnipeg, and the snow dumps would regularly last into July. Last year the pile was still nearly 60 feet high on August 8.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:43 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


okay so now imagine winnipeg got 3x its average annual snowfall, all within a single month. is it noteworthy yet.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:18 AM on July 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


As with those snow mounds, it just made me picture a hard bitten detective being called to the scene of a discovered corpse, where a rotted arm is sticking out of a slowly melting pile of snow and debris.
posted by codacorolla at 10:00 AM on July 7 [1 favorite +] [!]


Boston Man Found Dead in Snow
posted by Gungho at 11:00 AM on July 7, 2015


Wrong Boston, Gungho
posted by ocschwar at 12:21 PM on July 7, 2015


That Boston is a suburb of Buffalo, though, which does have it's own large mound of snow (as I mentioned a bit earlier). Though that particular gentleman died in his own yard during the snowstorm that resulted in the Central Terminal debris pile, even if he had ended up in the road it is unlikely that he would have ended up with the debris:

- that debris pile contains, I believe, only snow plowed from Buffalo city streets
- if it does include snow plowed by the county, it's additionally unlikely that a hypothetical dead body from Boston would have ended up there due to the mild dispute this winter between the town of Boston and Erie County (enjoy these taunting tweets from County Exec Mark Poloncarz) which meant that Boston managed its own snow and would not be dumping debris at the Central Terminal even if the County were to do so

For someone from Boston to end up in codacorolla's story would be quite the mystery.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This feels like a literal "kill it, kill it with fire" moment.

We tried that, you know. That pile's the snow that didn't go through melters haiku purchased or borrowed from Montreal.
posted by maryr at 9:30 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Er, haiku means hastily here in Boston.
posted by maryr at 9:40 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wicked nice meltahs
Can we borrah some there brah
This snow's a pissah
posted by Etrigan at 1:38 AM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


melters haiku

I wish that the city of Montreal did have a staff of bemittened badasses on patrol, pressing megaphones into snowbanks and shouting things like:

Banc de neige, perdez
votre soupe d'ordure glacial.
Fondez, tabarnak!


Apologies for my terrible French.
posted by busted_crayons at 1:43 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]




And stay dead!
posted by maryr at 8:40 AM on July 14, 2015


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