It’s one big pile o’ snow.
Jackson town workers scraped 99 percent of it off some 35 miles of town streets and trucked it to the Teton County Fairgrounds in the middle of town.
Now it towers about 50 feet high, Sam Jewison, public works street manager with the Town of Jackson said. It’s so big, it has a name — several names, in fact.
“Snow Queen,” because it’s daintier than nearby Snow King Mountain. “Snow Prince” – same idea. And “What the Sam Hill,” after Jewison, its architect.
“We had it pretty under control until about the 11th of February,” Jewison said of his snowplowing tasks. In the following four weeks, however, workers accrued “substantial overtime.”
February was the second-snowiest month ever in Jackson, meteorologist Jim Woodmencey, owner of Mountain Weather, wrote on his blog. He reported 52.9 inches, a bit shy of the all-time monthly record of 56 inches recorded in January 1969.
Nine pieces of heavy equipment work the Jackson highways and byways, plus contractors’ trucks when the going gets deep. Dozers pile the snow high to reduce its footprint at the fairgrounds, a concern with the pending arrival of the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb on Snow King Mountain starting March 21. Many participants use the fairgrounds as a staging area.
After the hill climb, there’s not much rest for the town crews.
“There’s a large amount of sand in that snow — 6,000, 7,000 tons,” Jewison said. As the pile begins to shrink, the sand, which had been spread on city streets to aid vehicle traction, forms a layer that impedes the melting, he said.
“So, we have to keep stirring it up so the snow is visible — so the snow can melt in the sun,” Jewison said. “We have to continuously move it around.”
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Just as they built it up, bulldozers will return to What the Sam Hill to deconstruct it. The goal is to get the fairgrounds clear, or near clear, by Memorial Day weekend. That’s when participants in the annual Old West Days parade stage at the fairgrounds before marching to the Town Square to kick off the summer tourism season.
But, Jewison said, “it’s got to stop snowing first.”