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Snow mounds at the feet of some Mason City driveways have engulfed mailboxes

Snoopy’s having a happy winter so far in Mason City, with more than 36 inches of snow falling for the season through Monday. Shovelers and blowers and those who plow for a flat seasonal rate are becoming weary though.|(Contributed to NorthIowaToday.com by a Mason City resident)

OK, Snoopy, you’re coming down, dude.

You and your “Let it Snow” message flying from the flagpole have coaxed enough snow already to last two winters, and we’re only half-way through January.

Sure, you like the fresh white stuff to fall regularly. It’s great for sledding and making forts and digging tunnels and snowboarding and skiing and good scenery. But it’s getting to be a real pain in the back, especially when ñ after clearing it all from the driveway and sidewalk ñ the plow comes by and leaves a big heavy snow berm across the driveway. You dastardly beagle. You’re to blame. You should be taken down and folded up and put in the garage where you can’t do any more damage with your eager invitation for more snow.

Maybe a plain white flag of surrender would be better, signaling to the plow driver: Hey, enough already on the driveway barriers. Someone’s going to get a serious back injury from shoveling, or ram into a neighbor’s car while trying to crash through the big roadblock of compacted snow.
Can’t they pile the snow somewhere other than the driveway, like maybe on the island in the middle of the cul de sac? There are lots of people who think that would be an excellent idea.

Let’s call City Hall and find out why they don’t do that.

We’re talking with Bob Berggren, Mason City’s street maintenance supervisor. Drivers do push snow onto the island when they first enter the cul de sac, he said. But plowing it up into the middle isn’t as easy as it might seem. There’s this thing called centrifugal force that pushes the snow to the outside when you go around a circle. “No matter which way the plows work, you can’t change the laws of physics,” he said Tuesday.

These cul de sacs ñ there are about 85 in the city ñ just aren’t designed for snow removal. They’re more designed for neighborhoods in Florida or California where they don’t get snow, said Berggren, whose department had about 30 calls regarding the handling of Monday’s 2.7-inch snowfall.
If the plow drivers were to go back and forth to clear the snow from driveways, it would take way too much time, which of course is taxpayer money, which of course is not something the city wants to spend as if it were snowflakes.

Another thing with cul de sacs, Berggren said, is that plow drivers can’t go fast enough around them to throw the snow over or on top of the snow banks along the sides of the street, like the way they do on straight-aways. So it gets piled up along the sides and, unfortunately, deposited in open areas such as driveways.
We’ve had a lot of snow already (36.2 inches in Mason City) and it’s getting to that time of year when people are getting tired of it, Berggren noted, so it’s becoming more of a pain for some.

Especially those without snow blowers.

But there are a couple tips for the shovel-weary: Throw the snow back into the yard as much as possible to avoid having it plowed back onto the driveway. Or move to Florida or California. Or maybe post a flag of Snoopy basking in the warm sunshine saying, “Let it melt.”


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