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Going snowhere: After 106 inches, Anchorage needs more snow dumps

February 14, 2012 | 12:36 pm

Ever wonder -- after it's been snowing all winter long (think "War and Peace") -- where all that snow goes?

Up in Anchorage, they're beginning to ponder the same thing. With more than 106 inches of snow so far, the city's designated private snow dumps are nearly full -- many are closed -- and it's still coming down.

"The challenge this year is we've had numerous snowfalls back-to-back-to-back. And usually, we get 1- and 2-inch snowfalls. This year, we're seeing 6 to 10 inches," said Alan Czajkowski, deputy director of maintenance and operations for the city of Anchorage, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

"And then, we got 4 more inches last night."

After a big snowfall, the city undertakes what's called a "plow-out," with a fleet of 30 graders and 16 dump trucks working their way through town -- first plowing, then hauling away, snow to places where residents can forget it ever happened.

"It's basically a 24/7 operation," said Czajkowski, whose name, appropriately enough for the mechanical symphonies he conducts, is a variant of the famed Russian composer's.

In a briefing paper, city officials said the amount of snow hauled as of January, if placed on a five-acre lot, would be 250 feet deep.

There's no problem at the city's seven municipal snow dumps, even though some of the discarded snow there already is towering up to 60 feet high. The problem is at the smaller commercial dump sites, where private companies plowing parking lots, condo walkways and sidewalks deposit their frozen treasure.

Six of the seven private dump sites normally used are full and have had to close, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

"Now the last one is getting ready to run out of room," Marcel Warmilee, owner of private hauler Arctic Green LLC, said in a telephone interview.

Warmilee, who moved to Anchorage 22 years ago from Hermosa Beach, Calif., said he's seen this much snow only once since he arrived. The big problem, he said, is that most of the areas that were once prime snow dump sites have been developed as the city expands.

Private contractors are pushing the city to allow them to use municipal dumps, he said. In the meantime, the Anchorage Assembly was scheduled Tuesday night to consider a measure to temporarily ease land-use regulations for opening new private snow dump sites.

"We're just helping them expedite the process," Czajkowski said. "Because we still have basically another month of winter here."


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-- Kim Murphy in Seattle

Photo: City crews clear snow in the Inlet View neighborhood of Anchorage. Credit: Erik Hill / Anchorage Daily News/MCT