August may seem early to start planning for winter storms, but Boston isn’t taking any chances after last season’s historic snowfall.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority met Aug. 13 to discuss where to build the city’s next “snow farm,” where snow that’s removed from city streets, sidewalks and parking lots can be piled. They are considering the former Hess Oil site at 148 Condor St. in East Boston.
“If this past winter taught us anything, it’s that being prepared can never be a bad thing,” Nick Martin, a BRA spokesperson, told the Boston Business Journal Aug. 12.
The seven-acre site is vacant, having contained Hess fuel tanks until 1998. There are an increasingly limited number of vacant parcels that can be used to store plowed snow in the city, and it appears that Boston’s winters are getting snowier and snowier.
The 2014-2015 season shattered records for the city, with the snow level at Boston Logan Airport being recorded at over 110 inches, or more than nine feet. To put that in perspective, that places Boston in the company of cities like Salt Lake City, Anchorage, and Denver, all of which have received eight or more feet of snow in record seasons.
At the meeting, the BRA also discussed issuing a bid for snow plowing at BRA-owned properties across Boston. The contract could end up costing up to $100,000 for the snow season starting Nov. 14. That’s actually not an unreasonable amount, considering the combined costs of snow removal and snow damage across the country; last year, winter storms caused about $2.3 billion in insured losses in the United States.
Boston’s Snow Farms
The massive snow piles at snow farms throughout Boston this past winter gained quite a bit of fame, both online and closer to home.
TripAdvisor dubbed the five-story “Alps of MIT” snow farm in Cambridge a tourist attraction, and another in South Boston (near Northern and Tide) made national news for its 75-foot height.
In fact, the last of the city’s snow melted only last month, with Mayor Marty Walsh declaring July 14 as the official day the final snow pile disappeared from Boston Seaport. It had been there for five months.
Walsh had playfully invited residents to guess the meltdown date in advance, with the winner getting a chance to meet the mayor in person.
The title of “Snowstradamus,” as Boston.com dubbed it, was shared by Rhea Becker, Emily Conley, and Holly Monaco.