Challenges of winter getting tough to overcome

It was no surprise that large snowbanks and the overnight parking ban were brought up as the main concerns at the city of Marquette’s inaugural “snow summit” Tuesday evening – seeing that this winter has been long and cold.

Most residents across the region are pretty much fed up with the wintry weather and are ready to see true springlike weather melt the snow away.

However, the snow summit was a good idea and enabled city officials and residents to discuss issues that may be of concern during the winter.

It also served as a good avenue for department of public works staff to explain why there is a parking ban and how the streets are cleared, which go hand-in-hand.

The ban prohibits parking on city streets between 1 and 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 to April 1, which is the prime time for snow plow drivers to do their work. Having cars parking along streets would result in a real mess if plows had to zig-zag down the roadway.

In addition, the city’s zoning ordinance includes off-street parking requirements in all zoning districts that should be adequate to ensure vehicles are off the street at night.

As far as snowbanks go, there’s not much that can be done to eliminate them, seeing that the National Weather Service had measured 152.7 inches of snow falling through Tuesday.

While sounding like a lot of snow, the total is still nearly 30 inches behind the normal of 182.2 inches by now.

Increasing the problem this winter is that because of the prolonged cold temperatures and the lack of any thaws, all the snow that has fallen has remained piled up.

There are ways to deal with high snowbanks in certain areas, namely scooping up the snow with front-end loaders and loading up dump trucks to haul it away.

This does occur, too, but public works crews have been stretched thin this winter with a large number of water pipe freeze-ups in addition to their normal tasks.

The snow summit did serve as a good starting point for dialog, though, and having city staff start thinking of ways for improvements.

That said, some of the more challenging aspects of winter are difficult to overcome and we simply have to learn to live with them, even during a winter that doesn’t seem to want to end.