A record 6 feet of snow has dumped down on Boston in the past few weeks, and today looks to show that there's more where that came from. It's gotten so bad that the city has reached out to the general public and scientists alike for fresh ideas on what to do with all the piles of plowed snow—some of which reach 40 feet into the freezing sky, reports City Lab. "We’re not at a public-safety concern yet, but we will be if we keep getting snow like this," Boston Mayor Martin Walsh warned on Monday. These piles of snow in vacant lots, or "snow farms," can hang around until spring, while melting machines that filter out street debris and redirect the melt toward storm drains are costly, not to mention require lots of gas to run.
A leading idea being debated is to go back to the days of yore and dump the snow straight into Boston Harbor. While some say all the salt shouldn't be poured into the water, local environmental agencies and even oceanographers tend to agree that there's not enough to seriously impact the water's salinity—less than 1% of what's already in the water has this year been dumped onto city streets, and the folks at Popular Science are all for this old-school alternative. And while CNBC reports that Boston area snow plowers are making a killing this year, all the snow is putting quite a dent in the local economy, especially hitting small-business owners who see considerably less foot traffic. One estimate suggests that a single-day shutdown costs the city $265 million, no matter where that snow ultimately goes. (Even the wind was gusting at up to 70mph in parts of Massachusetts.)