The spring equinox was March 20th, Alberta last saw snow on May 1st, and summer has almost come and gone, but for crews at the City of Edmonton's west-end snow dump, winter didn't officially end until last Saturday at 4 p.m.
That was when the last bit of snow in the west-end storage facility finally melted, leaving only a fine residue of sand and gravel where once there was a mountain of snow.
In its heyday, the pile covered 11 acres and stood as high as a 20-story building. Even then, it contained just a fraction of the snow cleared from Edmonton's streets over the course of the exceptional 2010-11 season, said Laura McNabb, a spokeswoman for the city.
“At that facility alone, we had 840,000 cubic meters of snow,” she said. “Now, we have five other snow storage facilities, so this year we hauled over 3.4 million cubic meters to our various facilities.”
Because the meltwater has to be filtered before it can go back into the municipal water system, it would take a long time to melt that much snow under the best of circumstances, McNabb said.
This year, the rainy spring and early summer slowed the process down even more.
“The rain actually delays the melting of the snow because it's rain running through the drains rather than the snow that's allowed to melt there,” McNabb explained.
It took a stretch of sun and heat to finally finish off the pile.
“It dragged on and on and on,” McNabb laughed, “but we finally got rid of our snow in time for the new snow season.”