The trees at the LeDroit Park gate are budding and will soon bloom. It seems like only yesterday we were shoveling mountains of snow. In case you forgot all about that, here’s a cool video account of our recently departed winter:
After big snowstorms, the melting snow swells the Potomac and Anacostia for days. The good news is that in older parts of Washington, including LeDroit Park, the heaps of gray slush— snow mixed with car grease, road salt, and road sand— will not be dumped straight into the rivers as it will be in the rest of the Washington area as the City Paper reports.
In older parts of the city built before 1900 (see the map), our sewers and our storm drains are the same system, meaning that the water leaving your sink joins up with the same water running into the street grates. Only older cities have this combined system; the rest of the the Washington area, including newer parts of the District, have separate pipes for sewage and for storm water.
This combined system is usually considered an environmental problem, since occasional heavy rainfalls inundate the combined system, forcing it to eject both storm water and raw sewage into the rivers and Rock Creek for a few hours through 53 outfall points.
However, with melting snow, the system is reversed into an environmental virtue, since the melting slush—salt, sand, grease, and all— are filtered with household waste at the Blue Plains treatment plant at the southern end of the District.
Let’s call this the combined system paradox: an environmental threat to the city’s waterways in the spring and summer becomes an environmental steward when winter snows melt.
We wrote earlier about the mountains of snow that plows had piled up in LeDroit Park. Much of the city of Washington had become like the state of Washington, with snow-capped mounds visible from every window.
Welcome back east. We caught glimpses of bobcats and dumptrucks hauling away the snow mounds to lands far, far away.
Unlike Metro, Howard University Hospital must stay open no matter the weather. As such the groundskeepers are quick to remove snow the moment the first flake hits the ground. The employee parking garage on the block bounded by Fourth Street, V Street, Fifth Street, and Oakdale Place also needs its top level cleared of snow. But where does the snow from the top level go? Well, over the edge it seems.
Due to the overwhelming amount of snow that has worn down the city’s plows, the District has contracted with a Massachusetts company to help dig us out. This morning we spotted part of the Bay State crew and its heavy construction equipment clearing Fifth and U Streets here in LeDroit Park. The ferocious looking machines are scraping the streets down to the pavement and amassing snow mountains that will take weeks to melt.
The District government uses GPS to track its plows and publishes the location data for the public to see. Enter in your address or an intersection and watch an animated history of plowing over the past few days near you.
Please recall that under District law, property owners should have cleared their sidewalks by now. It’s certainly no fun, but it helps life return to normalcy.
The record snow that accumulated this weekend brought us out to snowball fights and sledding in Meridian Hill Park. With few stores open and few roads passable, Saturday was a true holiday in the old-fashioned sense.
Howard University Hospital’s groundskeeper was out in heartbeat clearing the hospital’s sidewalks while contractors cleared the hospital’s parking lot. Pretty impressive!
Neighbors dug their cars out of snow and the usually busy Florida Avenue carried more pedestrians then automobiles. The District government sent numerous plows along U Street and Florida Avenue, largely neglecting (understandably) the quiet streets of LeDroit Park.
You didn’t need a 4×4 to get around this weather. These two girls found that a daddy-powered sled was the most convenient form of transportation.
In Dupont Circle, hundreds of people gathered for a snowball fight. We caught the end of it:
Is a white Hummer camouflaged when it’s in the snow? These snowballers were able to spot and pelt it.
This Suburban sped away as soon as the light turned green.
For cars in LeDroit Park, Fourth and Fifth Streets are passable, but the east-west streets are better left to the four-wheel-drives.
More snow is expected Tuesday night and during the day on Wednesday. Were Pres. William McKinley still alive today, he would not only argue the merits of a gold standard with Rep. Ron Paul, but would also scoff at this relative “dusting”. Though we’ve recorded 45 inches so far this winter, the winter of 1898-99, during McKinley’s administration, set the city’s record, dumping a total of 54.4 inches on the capital!
If you’re tired of the snow, be glad you don’t live in Québec City, which suffers 124 inches of snow each winter… on average!
Exactly nine months from now the maternity wards will be full, but if you’re looking for other fun today without consequences later, you might consider sledding and lobbing snowballs at your fellow citizens.
The steps at Meridian Hill Park make for excellent sledding (pictured above). The park will also host a snowball fight at 2 pm. Alternatively, there is a snowball fight scheduled for 2 pm at Dupont Circle. Please leave your city-issued guns at home.
The National Weather Service is predicting a snow storm to cover Washington from Friday morning through Saturday evening. The storm is expected to leave 12 – 20 inches of snow.
So far we’ve been impressed with the dedication of Howard University Hospital’s groundskeepers, who are out there within an hour of the first flake to clear the sidewalks.
Here’s a novel idea we found online for a pedal-powered snow plow. If someone is willing to build it, we’re willing to drive it down every sidewalk in LeDroit Park.
“Of course, the storm is the big story, it is unbelievable. It actually paralyzed Washington more than Joe Lieberman. In fact, there was so much white powder in D.C., people thought Marion Barry was mayor again.” — Jay Leno, Dec. 21, 2009
We turned on our camera to discover a few more photos of LeDroit Park after the Snowpocalyse that ended the weekend before Christmas. Enjoy. (Click each photo to view a larger version)
* * *
Looking south on Fourth Street:
Anna J. Cooper Circle under snow:
LeDroit Park’s own painted ladies:
Icicles to kill!
View all our LeDroit Park photos— spring, summer, and fall, too!