Boston overspends its snow removal budget by double as storms continue to move in
Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 4:31 PM - The City of Boston has overspent its $18 million snow removal budget by double as storms continue to pummel the region, local media reports.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh told reporters the city has already spent about $35 million on snow removal, with another potent storm set to move in Thursday into Friday. That system will be followed by another storm, which has a moderate risk of hitting the area this weekend.
Walsh says public works crews have removed about 200,000 tonnes of snow from city streets over the past two weeks.
“We’re melting thousands of tons an hour,” he said. “We’re not at the point yet where we have to go into the harbor, but it’s an option ... We might be dumping in the ocean pretty soon. We’re almost forced to.”
More than 150 cm of snow has fallen in parts of the city so far.
'SNOW DUMP' ON THE TABLE
In an interview Monday, Walsh indicated the city was "going to explore" putting excess snow in the ocean.
Under state regulations, the practice of putting the snow in the ocean is fine during 'extreme circumstances' as long as the Boston Conservation Commission is notified beforehand. Under normal circumstances, state law prohibits dumping snow in waterways due to the environmental concerns over the salt and other contaminants it carries. It is believed the last time the city plowed snow into the ocean was back in 2009.
“I don’t know if we’ll get environmental push-back,” Walsh added. “There will probably be some concern out there, but we’re talking snow like we’ve never seen before.”
Another solution discussed is the strategic placement of city dumpsters in locations where bulldozers can access and fill the containers.
SNOW CAUSING STRUCTURAL DAMAGE
The heavy snowfall has elevated the risk of structural damage to residential properties, with multiple reports of collapsed roofs in the city.
Earlier this winter Buffalo, NY, experienced collapsing roofs in the wake of the two metres that fell on that city in November. For a roof to collapse under the weight of snow, and according to The Weather Network's Scott Sutherland, with an overall snow to water ratio of 20 to 1, ~2 m of snow reduces down to about 100 mm of water. For each square metre of area the snow covers, that's roughly 100 kilograms of water mass. Take into account the area of the roof, say 70 square metres for your basic two-bedroom townhouse, and you're looking at around 7 metric tons - or about the equivalent of a pair of average-sized Asian elephants - resting above your head.
Sutherland adds that the ratio of snow to water could be up to 30 to 1 - meaning that you'll have about 3 centimetres of snow for each millimetre of water that went into making that snow - or possibly higher. Your average snowstorm has a ratio of more like 10 to 1.
Reports of roof collapses starting to stream in from Boston, with 68.4" of snow in the last 17 days. pic.twitter.com/TM58Y873H0— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) February 9, 2015