One of the inevitabilities of snowy winters is that here and there one will find huge mounds of snow, especially in places with large parking lots.
It’s always been like that. Even when I was a kid, plows piled up mini-mountains of snow in a nearby shopping center’s parking lot. We’d play king of the mountain. One kid would climb to the top and everyone else would try to knock him off.
It was cold but you couldn’t get hurt. Snow is soft.
Those mounds of snow are back with a vengeance this year. They’ll probably melt a lot sooner than some of us expect, but in the meantime, they’re proving to be a real headache.
The problem is that in some places, where snowplows have cleared parking lots, they’ve piled up the snow in huge mounds, 6 or 7 feet high, at the edge of the parking lots, extending all the way to the curb.
The result is that people trying to pull out of parking lots and into the street can’t see whether any cars are coming. To get a glance of what’s out there, drivers have no choice but to stick the noses of their cars into the traffic lanes, lean forward and hope that if anyone is approaching they aren’t texting and will notice you.
I’ve experienced the problem trying to get out of some parking lots. I’ve also witnessed the traffic headaches it’s caused as one lane had to stop because somebody’s car is just far enough into the lane that traffic couldn’t get by.
There are similar problems on some divided highways in town, such as Lafayette Street on the south side. Huge mounds of snow up to 20 feet wide, piled up by plows trying to clear large intersections, make it impossible for cars turning left to see whether any traffic is approaching.
It’s particularly scary when you consider that the speed limit on that road is 45 mph.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that can be done about the problem at this point. What’s done is done. The huge mounds of snow can’t be pulled back into parking lots or pushed out of the medians.
One can’t blame plow operators. It’s been awhile since they’ve seen this much snow, if they ever have. January was the snowiest January on record, and you have to go back 34 years or more to find seasons with comparable snowfall.
Maybe, though, there’s a lesson to be learned. It’s not a good idea to push tall mounds of snow all the way to the curb. It might look nice, and it makes for great photographs, but it makes for lousy driving.