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It’s Late Summer but This Everlasting Pile of Snow in Buffalo Still Hasn’t Melted

The residents of Buffalo, New York, are baffled by a 12-ft pile of snow that hasn’t melted in eight months. The giant pile, located near Central Terminal on the Queen City’s east side, has been around since the ‘Snowvember’ storm last year, and seems unaffected by the summer heat.

According to New York state climatologist Mark Wysocki, the “original problem started back in November.” After the storm, city workers had no place to put all the excess snow so they decided to dump it in a vacant lot. Then they used bulldozers to flatten and compact the pile. By doing that, they created insulation, effectively producing a very slowly melting snow pile.

“It’s not unprecedented, but it’s weird when you think about it,” said Storm Team 2 meteorologist Patrick Hammer. “That pile of snow is like a glacier. It’s very dense and it’s covered in dirt and garbage, which acts to insulate the snow from the sun’s rays. That’s what melts the snow, not just the heat but the sun’s rays, and it’s protected.”

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Photo: video caption

You’d actually have to dig away about a foot of soil to catch a glimpse of the near solid ice. “It’s like an Oreo,” Wysocki said. “The soil on top is warm and the (snow) is sitting on the warm ground and it just takes time.”

The snow is  not immune to the heat, it’s just melting at a very slow pace, creating a marshy pond of dirty water around the pile. “It’s actually mostly melting from below, from the ground which has warmed beneath it,” Hammer explained, adding that a lot of rain could help melt the pile. “So too could the fire department with a bunch of hoses, which they could use to spray off the dirt and break up what’s under it, because it’s really the dirt that’s insulating it.”

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Photo: video caption

Unless that’s done, Hammer predicts that the hardened snow will still be there for at least another month. “The middle of the snow pile is cold despite it being as warm as it is right now, and it’s not going anywhere. Yes, there will be a slow melt, but I believe it’ll be here through August.” Wysocki agrees, and says that until then, Buffalo has a new summer tourist attraction.

It turns out Buffalo authorities have finally decided to give Mother Nature a hand at handling the unusual slow pile. For the past two days they’ve been clearing off the dirt and knocking down the hardened snow. “We thought it was the appropriate time,” said Pubic Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak. “We started knocking it down. We’ll level it off, spread it out, then let that dry.”

 

Sources: WGRZ, ABC News, Buffalo News

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