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Who is Snowphisticated? How Some Cities Clear Snow

February 16, 2010

By Michael Tarm, The Associated Press

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No two snowflakes are alike, and there`s not a city that has the same strategy to remove snow from streets as any other. Here are highlights of plans that some cities in the U.S. and around the world have to clean their streets after a storm, which range from the brute force of repeated plowing, to the high-tech of melting machines, to the fantastical of intercepting storms with jet fighters.

New York: Cleaning crews in densely populated New York City, pressed to find spare room to deposit snow, often rely on a unique system of 20 giant snow-melting machines. A melter is hauled to a street where there`s lots of snow, blasting steam that can turn more than 50 tons of snow into water every hour, sending hundreds of gallons a minute gushing into sewers. Other cities usually cart snow off to open fields or dumps.

Denver: The Colorado capital taps a familiar snow-removal expert: the sun. With January and February temperatures usually in the 40s, the city`s official snow plan says Denver can often rely on the warmth of the sun`s rays to melt away snow after a storm - reducing the snow-cleaning costs compared with colder cities that get the same amount of snow.

Syracuse, N.Y.: In a city with one of the highest average annual snowfalls of any place in the U.S., they`re just relentless: sending plows to sweep the same street on the hour during a heavy snow. "The biggest thing we do is we`re able to attack the snowstorm around the clock," said Thomas Simone, a deputy commissioner at the city`s department of Public Works.

New Castle, Ind.: With a supply of trucks and salt, sand and other deicing chemicals on hand, crews in this town east of Indianapolis can start working the streets early - preventing ice from forming under layers of snow. "Daddy had a saying, `It`s better to kill the snake before it bites you,`" said Bob York, a plow driver who supervises crews in New Castle. "That`s our main thing - to get on it before it gets ahead of us."

Flagstaff, Ariz.: The city`s official snow removal plan includes the ominous directive for drivers to check snow piles around residential cul-du-sacs before plowing through them - because "children often like to build snow forts and play inside these snow masses."

Beijing: Officials mobilized more than 20,000 snow shovelers and street cleaners, along with 40,000 troops from the paramilitary police command and 300,000 volunteers from the Communist Party youth league, to clear a January snow that, while only a few inches deep, was the biggest one-day snow fall since 1951.

Moscow: Mayor Yuri Luzhkov reportedly proposed in October using the air force to intercept storm fronts, then bombard them with dry ice and silver iodine to reduce the amount of snow falling on the Russian capital. The snow would fall, instead, on villages and towns far from Moscow city limits - which Luzhkov reportedly suggested would help crops in surrounding regions.

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Source: City snow removal plans, AP reporting.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Story Image: Snow covers roadways in the East during both blizzards earlier this month. (AP, WeatherBug)

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