In Portland, Maine, Snow Piles Reach FAA Height Limits

A Portland, Maine, apartment complex after a recent snow. A Portland, Maine, apartment complex after a recent snow. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

What's another 8 to 10 inches of snowfall for a city that's already removed 1 million cubic yards of snow?

Portland, Maine, has bested all its recent records for snow this winter. The city has received 80 inches of snow so far, the Associated Press reports, more than three feet above normal. All of that snow adds up.

In fact, the city's primary snow dump has grown so high that it is close to meeting limits set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

A snow dump on Congress Street, a site near the Portland International Jetport, is now so tall that it could potentially interfere with planes taking off and landing if it were to grow any higher.

Bangor Daily News reports that the city is capping its frosty rampart wall at 40 feet. The FAA limit for snow height near an airport is based on a formula that accounts for the distance between the runway and the snowbank. This formula actually permits a wall of snow as high as 56 feet, but building much higher than the current wall would require a lot of maneuvering space for bulldozers and other heavy equipment.

According to the report, Portland officials aren't yet considering dumping the snow into the ocean, a strategy that northeastern cities like Boston are mulling. Dumping snow into the water is a problem: Salt from the roads might nudge the salinity of Boston's harbor upward, for example, and it would introduce a lot of pollution.

Things aren't yet so dire for Portland. The city is building a new snow dump on Riverside Street, a site that it's never needed to use before. On the bright side, should White Walkers start wandering down from Quebec over the next few weeks, Portland's got a wall worthy of Game of Thrones.

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