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1948 Mayor To MIT: Use Flamethrowers To Melt Snow?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the yes-have-some-please dept.

News 203

An anonymous reader writes "In 1948 Boston mayor James Curley freaked out because of the record amounts of snow. He wrote to MIT and begged for help, even suggested using flamethrowers to melt it. (Check out the original type-written letter.)"

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203 comments

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I've been saying this all week (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091556)

I'd like to head out there and just use some brush burners to get rid of the snow on my driveway.

Re:I've been saying this all week (2)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091756)

I have 6' drifts on either side of my driveway - I have no problems with a couple of gallons of napalm to clear them.

Re:I've been saying this all week (2)

landofcleve (1959610) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091810)

I've done it, it's not very effective, cold concrete covered in ice and snow, talk about a heat sink.

Re:I've been saying this all week (3, Funny)

SniperJoe (1984152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092516)

You could always use the Mythbusters adage. "When in doubt, C4."

My Theoretical Response (0)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091588)

Dear Mayor Curley,

Thank you for writing us. Our engineers are hard at work on a brand new invention called THE SUN that will shortly eliminate all the snow in Boston, and indeed the entire state of Massachusetts. We also have our physicists at work on a little something called the LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS that will ensure that the snow melts slowly enough not to cause a flood; as opposed to all the snow melting simultaneously.

Re:My Theoretical Response (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091714)

The Sun is ineffective at melting the snow.

Higher air temperatures melt the snow.

If you've ever lived somewhere that gets snow cover and then arctic high pressure fronts you'd know that snow and clear sunny days equal record low temperatures.

Re:My Theoretical Response (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091840)

The reason sun doesn't melt snow too fast is it's white. Sprinkle a little black ash on it and watch it just sink. Dirty snow always melts faster.

They could just be sprinkling ash around on the snowbanks and huge snowpiles to get things melting faster. Such a simple idea, I don't know why they're not doing it. Ash isn't too environmentally unfriendly... certainly better than all the salt they're using.

Re:My Theoretical Response (2)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091916)

But it's DIRTY and I don't want it in my neighborhood! That's why I just pour my automotive antifreeze on my driveway. Clean and good-smelling!

Re:My Theoretical Response (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092362)

And it clears up the pesky stray pet population.

Re:My Theoretical Response (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092408)

Ash isn't too environmentally unfriendly

That depends [google.com] on how much ash is used.

Re:My Theoretical Response (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092668)

I was referring to ash from burning, which is quite a bit different than "coal ash". Isn't coal ash a petroleum compound? fire ash is mostly just carbon.

Re:My Theoretical Response (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091850)

Sun warms the air. Air melts the snow. There we are, Sun melted the snow.

Re:My Theoretical Response (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092270)

My south facing house gets plenty of sun and the snow on my lawn melts even without the temperature getting very high. My neighbors house across the street (north facing) doesn't.

Fog is best.... (1)

klubar (591384) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092300)

Short of bright sunny and 80F (which is unlikely in February in the Northeast), warm air (> 30 F) and fog is most effective at melting snow. The fog acts as a reasonable thermal conductor accelerating the snow melt. Surprising, rain is lousy at melting snow and just creates a mess. Cold and bright sun does melt some snow--especially if it's been plowed and is on blacktop (aka asphalt or bituminous concrete). Overtime, the snow also compresses so it appears to be melting.

Re:Fog is best.... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092474)

Yep, short of fog, low overcast 30-45 degree days work really well, or a good 40 degree rain.

Re:My Theoretical Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092404)

The Sun is ineffective at melting the snow.

Higher air temperatures melt the snow.

In other news; The Sun is ineffective at providing light.

Photons provide the illumination.

Re:My Theoretical Response (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092512)

No, warm air currents provide the heat, often from the ocean or large bodies of water.

Re:My Theoretical Response (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092630)

The air temperature is key for melting snow, but warm air does get warm for a reason.

(even on those record low days you talk about, ever notice the wider swing between day and night temperatures?)

Re:My Theoretical Response (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091868)

If you read the letter, the mayor's primary concern at the time was that the accumulation from the snow piling up all winter and not melting until spring would cause massive flooding when the temperature did finally rise enough to melt it all. So, the solution he was looking for was something that would melt the snow gradually during the winter rather than having to wait for it to all melt at once in the spring.

Given the fact that they're facing similar problems today, we can conclude that MIT failed to come up with anything useful in response to the mayor's query. It would be nice to know what their response was, if they responded at all.

Unreasonable Use of Force (1)

sammysheep (537812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091598)

That's like trying to use a frickin' flamethrower to melt snow....oh wait. :D

use steam! (2)

yincrash (854885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091600)

don't cities like this have steam plants with steam pipes through significant portions of the city? divert some steam to melt some snow

Re:use steam! (2)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091986)

Holland, MI actually does do this. They use the steam pipes to heat the sidewalks and streets of their downtown area.

Re:use steam! (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092542)

Penn State also was pretty good about having the steam pipes follow walking pathways/sidewalks. Every once in a while, there'd be a grate in the sidewalk pouring out heat. Pretty cool when you're too broke to buy proper winter clothes...

Re:use steam! (2)

onepoint (301486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092740)

When I lived in NJ, I install a solar water heating system on the roof of the home, I had it build during the summer when I was rebuilding my home, slight a bit OVER-SIZED and it worked well. One trick that I added to the system was simple, I had an engineer figure out how to plumb the stairs, sidewalk, driveway and used the solar heated water to warm things a bit.

Well it worked rather well, all I had to do was to flick a switch in the morning, the sidewalk would get a slightly warmer, when the snow fell it would melt, my only cost was the pumping. add the sun the next day and it was better. What I loved about it was that even if I did have to shovel, the next day it would be perfect and dry. What I hated was all those people always stomping down to clean there boots on my dry patch.

I would like to mention, that the solar water heater paid off over a very long period of time, due to my build size. but I think that it also saved my back and reduced the liability of slips and falls.

For my next home I want solar sterling engine mounted on the roof ( I now live in Florida, where the cost of fuels seems very high ), that will reduce my cost.

Dumping snow in the river (3, Insightful)

ChairmanMeow (787164) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091614)

When the snow melts, the contaminants are going to go into the river anyway, so why does it make sense to ban dumping the snow in the river?

Anyway, in my thermodynamics class back in college, one problem we were given was to calculate how much energy it would take to melt all the snow across the campus. The thermodynamics does not work to the advantage of economically getting rid of the snow using flamethrowers.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091726)

In my city when the snow piles melt massive amounts of filth, trash, and plastic bags are revealed.

The street sweepers get some of them, as do the garbage men.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35091728)

Probably has more to do with the water level and potential ice build up than pollutants, since you are correct in that anything through a storm drain will end up in the water.

Although, any solids in the snow are left behind when it melts ( assuming it isn't water soluble ), to be caught in the sump of the storm drains or on the streets - if you dumped these things directly in the river it could be bad.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092456)

I recall that the city Harrisburg, PA, did this a number of years ago. The local news showed dump trucks dumping snow off the side of a bridge into the Susquehanna River. A few days later parts of the snow mound broke free and floated down the river, taking out another bridge down stream.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (3, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091806)

A couple of years ago, a major city near me started to do that. They had to stop because it was causing flooding. The sudden addition of snow from all around the city raised water levels in the river to the point that it was starting to overflow its banks. Additionally, because the snow was frozen, it caused the river the freeze up in such a way as to slow its flow, causing flooding of communities upriver from the city.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092022)

Dumping snow in river may build an ice dam => flooding.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092108)

In most cities, when the snow on streets/sidewalks melts, the water and contaminants don't go into the river, but go into sewage where it's filtered and otherwise treated before reaching the river.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092268)

Actually, in most cities the storm drains aren't connected to the sewage system, they're separate pipes that usually drain unfiltered to a nearby body of water like a river.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092332)

Boston is a fairly old city and likely still has a combined sewer system. That being said, the main advantage is the vast majority of melted snow is absorbed into the ground instead of turning to runoff. If you throw it in the river, it all contributes to runoff. In addition, much of the snow melt gets filtered through the ground or through the sewer system itself even if it doesn't get treated.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092240)

Economic advantage my ass. Flamethrowes are fun and that's all. Of course the downside of melting your 6' snow drifts with a flamethrower is a bunch of water which is just going to freeze anyway. I prefer to use the flamethrower mounted on my gun when I play Black Ops. It's much more fun that way. Just don't get me started on those damn Napalm strikes.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092366)

When the snow melts, the contaminants are going to go into the river anyway, so why does it make sense to ban dumping the snow in the river?

Imagine you're a fish in that river, then ask yourself whether you'd rather want a few weeks of melt-water filtered through the ground seeping into the river, or tonnes of snow dumped on top of you.

From a more human point of view, there's also the possibility of snow causing blockage. If the river is cold, the snow won't melt immediately, and can cause ice floes.

Re:Dumping snow in the river (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092438)

In my thermodynamics class back in college, one problem we were given was to calculate how much energy it would take to melt all the snow across the campus.

One of the things that always boggles me about winter is that there is no addition of cold in any meaningful way, negative thermal energy not really existing; the world (well, hemisphere) gets substantially colder because it continues losing heat at the same rate it does in summer, but now it's not being replaced by the sun. All of those huge waves of warm and cold air that we live or die by are inefficiencies in heat getting from the ground (or anywhere else it's absorbed) to space.

Makes the world, and humanity, seem so much more fragile when you look at it that way.

CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles. (1)

thebiss (164488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091624)

I'm not sure what we will do if another 12" falls.

Although gasoline and flamethrowers would just lead to fires, I've wondered what a 100K BTU industrial propane heater would do. (Picture below.) Has anyone tried this?

http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/hvac/heaters/kerosene-propane/propane-heater-forced-air-50000-btu?utm_source=nextag&utm_medium=shp&utm_campaign=Propane-Kerosene-nextag&utm_term=245995&infoParam.campaignId=WI [globalindustrial.com]

Re:CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles. (1)

alta (1263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091690)

Unless you get out there and start pointing this thing all over the place, it'll melt a nice straight line somewhere.

And, you said 100k, but this is 50k. Was there a 100k model somewhere?

Now if there was an oscillating version!

Re:CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles. (2)

Temkin (112574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091832)

Simple... The snow melts, the water flows a few feet out of the path of the heater, and freezes solid, exposing you to potential liability if someone slips and breaks their hip.

   

Re:CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles. (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092010)

CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles.

I'm not sure what we will do if another 12" falls.

As someone who grew up in an area that managed not to call 2 feet of snow a national emergency (which is about all it takes to create 5' piles), you take the new snow and throw it on top of the pile. Or, if necessary, you make the base of the pile bigger. If really and absolutely necessary, you pile the new snow into a sled and pull the sled into the middle of the lawn and dump it there. Sometimes the answer to a difficult problem really is just to work a bit harder. Sad but true.

Re:CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles. (1)

inpher (1788434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092068)

I am not sure this would be much faster than a good shovel while also costing much more (to buy and use) while at the same time risking icing the driveway. Also, using a shovel will give you a little extra exercise. With one of these [amazon.com] I can do a good sized driveway in fifteen minutes with <40 cm snow, about half an hour with <60 cm snow.

that's not a torch, THIS is a torch! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092432)

howabout one meellion B. T. U.s ?! [northerntool.com]

Re:CT Homes have 4-5ft deep piles. (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092772)

I've lived in the Sierras for the past 30 years and every winter we get more than 20 ft of snow. This year we had 18' in Nov and Dec (but January has been dry and sunny). I currently have about 3' in the yard and piles over 6' near the driveway and road.

How do we deal with snow that is regularly more than the "snowpocalypse" currently in rest of the country? We have "snow plows" and "snow blowers". You may have heard of them. They push the snow out of the way and pile it up out of the way. It all melts in the spring. No panic. Stop whinging. Go skiing.

Call the deathray kid (4, Funny)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091674)

Tell him we need a giant version, STAT.

Re:Call the deathray kid (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091826)

But you aren't adding any more heat to the system as the sun is already hitting the snow; you are just making it warmer on one place and colder in other places. You also risk having the melted snow refreezing as ice once you move the deathray to another location. I wonder if there are inexpensive ways to change the albedo of snow, like sprinkling soot on the snow that would help in addition to salting it to lower the melting point.

Re:Call the deathray kid (2)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091962)

Dude. You just argued AGAINST a giant deathray.

Re:Call the deathray kid (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092484)

I wonder if there are inexpensive ways to change the albedo of snow, like sprinkling soot on the snow that would help in addition to salting it to lower the melting point.

On a small scale, yes. My parents (living in Maine) use a woodstove to heat the house. They use the ashes to melt the ice at the base of the front steps.

You would need a lot of ash to make a dent on a snowbank though. And that much ash is a huge mess in the springtime.

Overkill, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35091680)

It might seem like overkill, but really why with all of our advances in technology do we still have to deal with such simple problems? It is obvious that a major factor in our economy staying on track is based on transportation working near 100%, so why do we still get plagued so often even from weaker weather? I am guessing that some corporation doesn't feel it is yet "profitable" enough to worry about solving.

Re:Overkill, but... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091738)

WE dont, the only reason we have these problems are cheap bastards against spending taxes.

IT is trivial to make roadways heated to keep ice and snow buildup down. Many large corporations and rich people have this already. Problem is a bunch of idiots whine like babies if we spend tax dollars heating sidewalks and roads in the cities.

Re:Overkill, but... (1, Insightful)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091922)

Tell you what, I'll tell them to go ahead---- And send the bill to you.

Re:Overkill, but... (3, Interesting)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092266)

Tell you what, I'll tell them to go ahead---- And send the bill to you.

Cute - you want a public service, but payment should be provided only by those who admit that it's necessary. Just pretending you don't need it - but happily benefiting from it - means you get to leach of other people who are more honest. Is that the idea?

Re:Overkill, but... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091816)

what percentage of our corporates employees really even need to be present, 25%? 15%?

Re:Overkill, but... (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092700)

We actually have invented two transportation methods that are easy to keep running regardless of how much snow is falling / has fallen...
The subway and elevated railway (el). The biggest problems are when the lines transition from elevated to underground, and any surface portions.
An elevated line could run through most of the worst storms we've had. All of the wind that causes snow drifts that wreak havoc on roads actually clears el tracks. The open nature of the track bed on els allow for any buildup to simply fall to the street as the trains go by.
Classic els are pretty cheap and easy to build (a simple steel framework above existing roads), and could keep our economy going in the worst of snowstorms. But they're noisy and ugly thus people don't like them.

Bad Snowstorm in Philly from the El [youtube.com]
As the video progresses you can see cars struggling harder to get through and getting stuck, but the el speeds along as fast as if it were a summer day.

If it's gotta be dead... (1)

NoxNoctis (936876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091694)

Kill it with fire.

Re:If it's gotta be dead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092078)

Better idea: Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

The Russians are already doing this (1)

robert bitchin' (765408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091700)

Re:The Russians are already doing this (1)

linuxgurugamer (917289) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091878)

They aren't melting the snow, although that is one of the side effects. They are using the engines to blow the snow away.

Re:The Russians are already doing this (1)

Handover Phist (932667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092820)

"The extreme cold there puts ice on the runways, and that of course has to be got rid off for airplanes to take off. That’s where things get badass; they use Klimov VK-1 jet engines from Mig-15 planes, or engines from Mig-17s to thaw the ice. You know, it gets pretty impressive when an engine from a fighter jet gets to work as a snow blower."

Dude, I'd work that job.

Don't they have rock salt where you guys come from? Forgive me, I'm Canadian, but shovel the driveways, use salt on the walkways, and hire guys with trucks and CATs to push the snow outta the way.

`Course, taxes might pop up a notch to pay for those guys to work.

Re:The Russians are already doing this (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092786)

What a shame, those engines really belong in a museum. They are Mig-15 engines [wikipedia.org] which have centrifugal compressors and are similar to the first British jet engines [wikipedia.org] developed in the early 1940s. Actually, from the outside, these look a lot like the De Havilland Ghost [wikipedia.org] .

The Mig-15 used ttechnology the Soviet Union got from the British during WWII. During the Korean war these centrifugal compressor engines were already obsolete and the Mig-15 was inferior to the American F-86, powered by the axial flow J35 engine [wikipedia.org] .

Like bombing an ice dam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35091770)

I was told that in the old days over at the local base (Selfridge) the river formed an ice-dam and parts of MtClemens were getting flooded. The boys at the base allegedly made a bombing run to clear it. If anyone can confirm this, that would be cool.

well (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092326)

This sounds rather unlikely, as what lunatic is going to run the risk of putting an airframe in the sky with explosives on it instead of just delivering them from the ground? It's not like there's any need for a deep strike mission!

Ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35091776)

Well, the letter says they're worried about the flooding of domiciles, was this fear unfounded?

Snow Gnomes Business Plan (2)

RunzWithScissors (567704) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091808)

Step 1: build pier into the ocean
Step 2: push snow off pier into ocean
Step 3: ????
Step 4: PROFIT!!!!!!


-Runz

this reminds me... (3, Funny)

SethThresher (1958152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091812)

Doesn't the Secret Service have a supply of flame throwers they've used in the past to clear out streets when the president is suddenly snowed in somewhere? I remember reading about that, but I don't remember which president it was for...

Re:this reminds me... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092352)

They keep them in the inside left pocket of their black suits, next to the rocket launcher.

Napalm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35091818)

Wouldn't napalm be much more effecient??

this isn't more outlandish than "snow melters" (3, Funny)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091822)

Many cities use snow melters to deal with snow; that's basically the same thing. I really wonder why environmentalists aren't up in arms about it; the snow melters can burn hundreds of gallons of fuel an hour, which is more fuel than it takes to a heat a house for a month.

Re:this isn't more outlandish than "snow melters" (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092622)

I bet if you made a pie chart of all energy used for heating homes vs. snow melters on an annual basis, the snow melters would look quite small.

They are doing this in Toronto Canada (1)

Lizard_nut (528551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091884)

I live in an area that was buried under 4-6 feet of snow over night back in December. The city I live in borrowed special trucks equipped with a flame device from the City of Toronto to melt snow in the down town area instead of trying to load it on to trucks with Loaders and haul it out and dump it some where. So, ya it's perfectly reasonable...

Kill it with fire!! (1)

Thadd.Isolas (936888) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091894)

Kill all the snow with fire!

Snow Dragon (1)

Bos20k (444115) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091902)

A safer way might be something like the Snow Dragon.

http://www.snowdragonmelters.com/ [snowdragonmelters.com]

I hear it is being used somewhere around here.

Giant halogen heaters FTW (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091936)

I think a slightly more sensible version of flamethrowers would be to use giant halogen heaters in place of streetlights, and feed them megawatts of energy. Quite apart from solving the snow problem, we could even keep our streets warm that way for people to walk along generally.

Re:Giant halogen heaters FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092174)

because global warming needs a kick in the ass.

NASCAR! (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35091950)

How about those NASCAR jet engine track dryers.
Now get off my freshly melted lawn.

Montreal's solution to the problem (1)

AlejoHausner (1047558) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092006)

The snowblower was invented in Montreal, for a good reason: they get lots of snow, and it stays in place until March. Hence the city has come up with an almost militaristic solution. It involves giant snowblowers, dump trucks, blinking red lights, and looking for your car (which is not where you parked it) after the city crews come up your street: http://chicagomontreal.blogspot.com/2006/01/snow-removal-in-montreal.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Montreal's solution to the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092258)

That's pretty much how it happens in Sioux Falls with a few exceptions. The city only clears sidewalks on major streets, residents must clear their own sidewalks or be fined (the city has programs for people who can demonstrate a physical inability to clear their walk). Our snow is often still around at the beginning of May and snow piles sometimes make it to June.

Driving on a road while the pile/berm is being moved to the middle of the street can be quite exciting especially in a compact car, and snow plows have the right of way...all the time.

Why you don't want to melt the snow (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092060)

Okay, let's say you melt the snow with a giant flamethrower. Then what do you do? Move on to the next patch with your giant flamethrower. What happens to the first patch that you burned the crap out of? It re-freezes, not into another snow drift, but a sheet of ice several inches thick.

Re:Why you don't want to melt the snow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092480)

If you use enough heat, the snow should evaporate after melting. Of course, it will just condense somewhere later, but it's not likely to form a sheet of ice.

Re:Why you don't want to melt the snow (2)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092506)

I think the idea is that you melt the snow near the storm drains, first.

Energy efficiency (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092126)

What does it take to melt one kilogram of snow vs shovel it up and truck it away? The latent heat of fusion of ice is 335 kJ/kg. So what does it take to truck it away? This would depend in part on the packing density of the snow.

And don't forget the teamsters wages for plow/truck drivers vs the Flame Thrower Local contract terms.

Already doing it? (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092190)

That reminded me of a post on Gizmodo awhile back where someone was already doing that [gizmodo.com] .

Re:Already doing it? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092330)

Not really melting the snow, though it does do that a bit. It's mostly used like a humongous leafblower to simply move the snow.

The Fitth Element (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092222)

I first watched this film in German ... and then I watched it later in English ... some guy (with a brilliant Texan accent) traded some guns with flame throwers and nets to some creepy crawler alien folks for stones which they didn't have. It's a hoot and a half!

Snow Melters (1)

PackMan97 (244419) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092226)

Most major northern airports have snow melters that do exactly that, melt snow. They work pretty well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNERNVAlAMo [youtube.com]

Of course, we can't have our railways held hostage by snow either, in that case, they just strap a jet engine onto a rail care and melt snow that way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5OrCCGV6hg&feature=related [youtube.com]

Where there is a problem, we'll find a solution!

Of course! (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092290)

What could possibly go wrong?

Call Karol Kane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092340)

She melts all the stuff in the frozen foods section, should work for snow as well.

haulaway trucks with heated compartments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092346)

I just heard yesterday that some city had these - the plowed snow is loaded into these haulers, the compartment where the snow is has heaters to melt it (possibly propane-powered? electric?), and the truck has a hose for drainage. The truck takes its load away from the street it was plowed from, drives over to a sewer manhole, and puts its drain tube into the manhole to drain away the meltwater. Apparently this was on TV recently - Discovery? - and it sounds like the answer to me. No long delivery to a remote pond or lake, no pollution of a pond or lake, and no ice formation from the melted water as it streams away.

Somewhat less exciting than flamethrowers though. What if there was a frozen person under the drift - a flamethrower would scorch them and make identification that much tougher, as well as giving the snow-removal crew nightmares. Ick.

Wait - they can't dump it because of contaminants? (4, Insightful)

dcigary (221160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092388)

So, they can't dump it into the river because of contaminants, but instead they'll wait for it to melt and wash into the river?

Am I missing something here?

Re:Wait - they can't dump it because of contaminan (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092498)

Not all drains go straight to the nearest water source. It's possible it goes through a quick treatment first.

Re:Wait - they can't dump it because of contaminan (2)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092814)

There's an extremely long history of people considering that actions that lead to a bad result are bad, while inaction that leads to the same bad result is much less bad. I'm not saying it's a logical mindset, but it is very definitely how humans think. A common example, when ethics and economics people talk about this, is: if you push someone in front of a train you're a murderer, but if you don't pull someone who is on the tracks off, or signal the train to stop, you're merely a selfish bastard.

flamethrowers? how about jet engines on trucks: (3, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092420)

the russians don't mess around when it comes to snow removal. they take a klimov vk-1 jet engine from a mig-15 and strap it on a truck, amongst other eyebrow raising configurations:

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2009/08/jet-engines-on-trucks-for-fun-and.html [darkroastedblend.com]

i think i would step a little livelier if i saw a snow plow like that coming at me down the street

Possibly off topic, but I have to say it (4, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092476)

Something about letters from that era that are just so simply elegant. I love reading letters from that time.

Did it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092536)

Did it work? Because Texas hasn't discovered the greatness of Salt or Deicers yet.

Conductive concrete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35092560)

My college is experimenting with conductive concrete to not only transmit power through the roads, but to help melt snow/ice on roads/bridges

http://www.conductive-concrete.unomaha.edu/

a beter solution (1)

KernelMuncher (989766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35092716)

If the mayor wanted to get the best use of MIT, he could just send naked pictures of Seven of Nine to the entire student body. The heat from so many nerds spontaneously combusting would be more than sufficient to melt the snow.
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