Calgary's winter storage sites are so full, snow likely won't all melt until fall

Calgary has seen a crazy amount of snow this winter and that's kept city crews busy clearing major streets to keep commuters moving.

The sites are as big as football fields

The Pumphouse snow storage site just west of downtown Calgary, one of three storage sites in the city, is 90 per cent full this year. (Colin Hall/CBC)

Calgary has seen a crazy amount of snow this winter, and all that plowed snow is filling up the city's snow storage facilities.

More than 140 centimetres (55 inches) has fallen since October, and much of it has been cleared away to the city's three storage facilities — one in the northeast, one in the southeast and one just west of downtown.

There's been so much snow, the city has issued three snow route parking bans. Disability and seniors advocates have called for better snow clearing on sidewalks, as those with mobility issues are finding it especially difficult to get around. 

"This year has definitely tested our capacity," roads department spokeswoman Tara Norton-Merrin told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday. 

"We're at about 90 per cent full at the southeast snow storage site and 95 per cent full at the other two."

Snow is piled nearly 20 metres high at the storage sites, which are about the size of a football field.

It can take months for the snow to melt, meaning it will still be there well into summer.

"It takes probably until about the end of August in most years to melt all the snow," said Norton-Merrin.

"As the weather gets nicer, we have equipment go in and we keep turning the snow and turning the snow so the sun can melt it."

The mounds of snow, which can reach 20 metres high, are filled with dirt and debris as well, and can take months to melt. (Colin Hall/CBC)

Once that's done, there's usually about 20 to 30 dump trucks worth of garbage and material left behind which needs to be hauled away.

"This includes everything from hubcaps to pop cans to shopping carts to bumpers," said Norton-Merrin. "We haul that away to the landfill just in time for the new snow to come in."

Capacity has been reached at the storage sites in the past.

In 2014, the city took the unprecedented step of removing snow from residential roads across Calgary after a massive winter storm in September left some streets unpassable and many residents stranded in their homes.

Calgarians have also had to get creative this year when it comes to finding a place to put snow shoveled off driveways and sidewalks.

Much like the city, many are running out of storage space and have resorted to building piles as high as possible.

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener