Posted at 5:04 AM on December 14, 2010
by Than Tibbetts
There's still some digging out to do in the Twin Cities, if the second-consective snow day for Minneapolis and St. Paul Public School students is any measure.
As if you needed any more convincing that the weekend storm was a doozy, NASA has provided some high perspective on the whitewashing Minnesota received.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired this image of the snow-covered state on December 12. The large image shows a much wider region, extending south to the edge of the swath of snow in Missouri. In this image, the snow emphasizes the course of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers through southern Minnesota.1 Comments)
Yes, I know all you Twin Citians are sick of the weekend snowstorm and its aftermath. (I'm sitting in MPR's bureau in Moorhead, where our streets are quite clear, thank you very much.) But I'm going to take this opportunity to remind you of the pretty (and educational!) side of winter weather, courtesy KAXE, a great community radio station in Grand Rapids, Minn.
Last evening I noticed that the snow mountain I'd built next to my driveway was beginning to fracture. A fissure had developed along the approximate line of the chain-link fence buried deep within the mountain.
I recognize this. I've seen it in videos from Alaska. It's called "calving."
But a better video to help put things in perspective is this one: the trailer for a PBS documentary about the fateful (but, miraculously, not fatal) Antarctic expedition of Ernest Shackleton and his ship Endurance in 1914. Have you had some anxious moments when your car was stuck in a snow bank? Imagine having your ship stuck in an ice floe - with no prospect of rescue.
If the kids need something to do on their snow day (doubtful), set them to reading the story of the Endurance. Or give them shovels and send them out to work on the driveway.
As part of the MPR News feature "Today's Question" we asked, "What could your city do better in removing snow?" Despite snow problems that persist for drivers and pedestrians almost three full days after the last flake fell, many people who've responded so far seem rather satisfied:
"All things considered, I think Minneapolis is doing a pretty good job. They're dealing with an enormous volume of snow & there aren't easy answers for where to put it all. The idea of calling the 2nd snow emergency was a good one - make streets somewhat passable during round 1 & go back and clean up for round 2." (bsimon via MPRnews.org)
"Hey, it's MN. It was a BIG storm. The cities are doing as much as they can with all the snow...This isn't an earthquake, hurricane or tornado that does lots of property damage too (ok except the Dome:) so be patient, helpful to others, and don't use too many brain cells complaining." (Cynthia via Facebook)
There were plenty of complaints, of course, and lots of ideas about how to better remove snow. Several people suggested a move that would likely be unpopular with most: New taxes.
"Pretty simple. Raise our taxes and buy more snow plows (I live in St. Paul, and yes, I want my taxes raised). Anyone who doesn't like taxes has no right to complain when government falls short of their expectations. We can't have our snow and eat it too." (Al via Facebook)
Some other ideas gleaned from your comments:
-Plows give one pass to every street in the first 24 hours after snow stops
-Cities should communicate better, letting residents know exactly when the plow is coming
-Empower small, private snow removal contractors to help with side streets
-Copy Bismarck, ND, which uses a plow mechanism that prevents pushing snow in front of driveways (unverified)
-Plow sidewalks with golf cart-type vehicles
-Use "zambonis in reverse" (snow melting machines)
-Plow from curb to curb downtown, and clear all downtown sidewalks
-Cities should plow alleys
-Employers should give everyone time off for shoveling
-Strategic deployment of flamethrowers
Final thought from Jim via Facebook:
"I know it's a lot to ask, probably practically impossible, and will come off as so much whining in light of people whose roads don't get cleared at all, but here's mine: Little is more disheartening than spending hours shoveling your gigantic driveway, finishing up, then finally collapsing into bed exhausted...only to discover as you try to leave for work the next morning that the bloody plow came by, and created a waist-deep ice dam at the street line overnight. OH, the profanity."
Add your own ideas here, or via Facebook.