Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Update: Monday, December 27, 2010
Well, it’s sunset and the snow is still out there. As expected, some absurd snow amounts are being bandied about. When I got today’s prerecorded
“Emergency” phone call regarding the Island’s state of
emergency, the voice said we got 15 inches. Hell, we had 15 inches before the
really hard snow moved in last night. Tom’s Rivers’ 28 inches is a sensible
starting point. I still think it topped 30 inches. And, yes, I know how to
average things out between drifts and blown clean points.
What does a storm of this size do to the environment? Very bad things.
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll conveniently overlook the element of mercury always arriving in modern-day precipitation, though that deadly heavy metal could someday be the death of us all.
The big eco-blow from a storm like this will rear up with the eventual run-off of chemical salts, including brine (“liquid salt”), now
being used by road crews to melt ice on roadways. Each year, the U.S.
uses over 25 million tons of rock salt to keep roads clean.
The problem from salt (and other chemical melting agents) eventually being washed off de-iced roads and into waterways is a lot more
dramatic hereabouts. Our coastal climate leads to very quick melt-offs -- as
will possibly happen as early as this coming weekend, when air temps will top
50, with rain. Rain is the big melter down. Not only can it melt massive
amounts of snow literally overnight but also it adds more water to enhance the
runoff flow. Melt runoff is fast, furious and fierce on the bay, where
salinities suddenly go crazy. Bivalves, minnows, winter flounder, and, most
importantly, eelgrass are in jeopardy because of these swings in water
chemistry. There’s virtually no avoiding it as our area grows out with humans.
But far be it from me to wallow in the mire of run-off woes. Instead, I choose to pass on some beetier news. No, not beefier. I’ll offer this excerpt from a “Mother Nature Network” story.
“… Combinations of beet juice and rock salt are being sprayed on streets and highways by the transportation departments in DC, Missouri,
and Ohio and in cities scattered
throughout the Midwest and Northeast. The mixture is
reported to have a lower freezing point than salt alone and stays on the road
longer, reducing the number of applications. The Ohio DOT says it’s currently
testing a beet-salt concoction called GeoMelt in 9 of its 88 counties.”
Per sketchy reports, the deicing capacity of processed liquid beet byproduct came about when a farmer noticed the pond where he drained beet juice byproducts never froze. Sounds just weird enough to be true.
Going beets to beat the streets is a crimson solution if ever there was. Not to worry, though, there’s nothing off-color about the
effort. By the time the organic beet liquid hits the road, all the redness is
gone. Of course, I should have read that part of the story before I rushed out
and poured a bunch of half-used jars of pickled Thanksgiving beets on the snow
bank behind my truck. Shortly after I employed the beet ice-melt method, a
passing police cruiser slid to a sideways halt. The officers saw the hideous
redness in the snow and were instantly convinced I had been digging snow and my
heart exploded clean out of my body. Oh, great, now I’ll get charged for their
five years of “sick leave” recovery time! (Just kidding, guys!)
Back to the more serious side of melt off, I think it’s a slap in the jolly face of recent Save
efforts – and the high-profile passing of the fertilizer laws. I’m sure not
belittling the tough-on-fertilizer effort but the same people who helped get
that through would rather see the bay go belly up before they’d settle for a
reduction in road salt if it meant a slowdown of road travel. Priorities are
such hard animals to potty train.