Boston's Biggest Snow Pile Sits On A Vacant Lot In The Seaport District

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Plows move mountains of snow at Boston's biggest snow pile. (Rebecca Sananes for WBUR)
Plows move mountains of snow at Boston's biggest snow pile. (Rebecca Sananes for WBUR)

In a huge vacant for sale lot in the Seaport District — on which someday there will be an office building — presently sits the city's biggest pile of snow.

It’s Boston’s largest snow farm. The snow is dumped here from all over the city. Fifteen- to 20-foot-high piles, almost as far as the eye can see, have been moved onto this lot.

A bulldozer called a Super Cat moves the piles around, trying to make more room, and Interim Boston Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy looks on.

"So we're at 6 Tide St. in the Seaport District," Dennehy says. "It's where we're housing most of our snow that we're farming out."

Just how much snow is there? Try almost 39,000 snow forts — each about 5 feet long and 3 feet high. Or, for the kids, that's roughly 61,933,000 6-inch snowballs.

After a week of historic snowfall, the lot is almost full, and Dennehy says that all of the city's other snow farms are either full or nearing capacity.

"We're trying to increase our capacity by melting some of the snow and giving us the opportunity to remove even more than the 7,500 loads we've taken off the Boston streets already," he says. Snow is being trucked into this snow farm from all over the city.

The snow melter is a hungry beast -- and will need to stay hungry. (Rebecca Sananes for WBUR)
The snow melter is a hungry beast -- and will need to stay hungry. (Rebecca Sananes for WBUR)

As a massive machine backs up, Dennehy explains that the beeping noise is coming from a snow melter. He says it's capable of melting 350 tons of material per hour. The snow melter will work in the lot for about eight hours, with water runoff currently flowing into a catch basin on Northern Avenue. Dennehy adds that melting is essential; the lot needs to be opened up, because city workers will be bringing in more snow over the next four or five days.

"The major thoroughfares is what we're concentrating on now," he says. "With the ability to open up some of these main drags we're hopefully freeing up some parking spots in Boston."

As the snow melter fires up, an enormous amount of steam pours out from it. Dennehy says workers see a "pretty steady river flowing" of melted snow water from the melter.

"It can take as much as you feed it," he says.

"It's a hungry beast?" Morning Edition host Bob Oakes asks.

"Yeah, it's gonna need to stay hungry, unfortunately," Dennehy says, laughing.

To hear the full interview, click on the audio player above.

Correction: Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this post said 750,000 loads of snow had been taken off Boston streets, not 7,500. We regret the error.

This segment aired on February 5, 2015.


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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.


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Shannon Dooling Investigative Reporter
Shannon Dooling was an investigative reporter at WBUR, focused on stories about immigration and criminal justice.



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