Dawson Moves Into Puddletime

Dawson has entered that phase of spring I call Puddletime. City workers have been trying to keep up by opening storm drains. The rapidly accumulating melt-water makes its way to the river, but it’s a losing battle. The darn streams freeze up again if the temperature drops significantly at night.

It’s hard to think back just a few weeks to when the snowpack on the streets was high enough to make them level with the boardwalks. It’s a local oddity that our streets are actually more userfriendly in the winter. There are no potholes then, and our boardwalks are much more accessible for those who have mobility issues.

Then the ploughs came by, making pass after pass to break up the hard packed snow cover. It’s graded into metre-high windrows that turn the streets into temporary boulevards. Before the city workers scoop it all away with loaders and trucks, the ploughed snow makes getting around town a little like a game of Pacman. You need to plan ahead. Look down the street to see if the windrow blocks the intersection, and plan alternate routes to your destination.

It’s a bit of a nuisance for about a week, but the muck that would develop if we didn’t take most of the snow away would be incredible. The ground is still frozen and the surface water has nowhere to go except to mingle with the top layer of dirt.

All over town snow clearance has been complicated by the city’s decision to have all the residential garbage collection taken care of on the streets instead of in the laneways between the streets. This year there are large piles of snow between each collection bin so that the bin doors are not blocked for either the residents or the collection contractor.

One the ironies of springtime in Dawson is that most of the snow has been hauled away by the time we need to have a good layer of it on parts of King and Front Streets. After all, the dog teams in the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Run need snow to run on before they hit the dyke trail and drop down to the Yukon River. So, early on the morning of the race, the city crew was out there with a truck full of snow and a loader, to drop snow and smooth it into a trail fi t for the mushers to guide their teams on.

The puddles I name this part of spring after form mostly at the corners of the intersections, generally around the storm drain grills, and this makes actually crossing at the intersections a bit of a trial for pedestrians.

You can’t tell how deep those puddles are. Ah well, it’s snowing enthusiastically as I write these words this morning, but I expect most of it will be increasing the puddle sizes by the end of the day.

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