MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When the Bartz brothers of New Brighton were building Diggs the Lobster back in January, the giant snow sculpture was 16 feet tall. It’s since shrunk 4 feet in the past six weeks.
“When we were building to eyes, we had to get up on a ladder,” Austin Bartz said Tuesday.
Now, those eyes are even with his.
Warmer Minnesota weather means the snow is disappearing fast. According to the state’s climatology office, the snowpack has fallen about an inch each day this week.
So, John from Minneapolis wants to know: How does this snow melt? Good Question.
Snow can disappear in a few different ways.
“Basically, we’re losing air in the snow,” said DNR Assistant Climatologist Pete Boulay. “It’s turning into ice. It’s becoming less fluffy and more compact.”
Boulay measures the snowpack each morning. At his St. Paul office, it was 17 inches Sunday, 15 inches Monday and 14 inches Tuesday morning.
Some of the snow also evaporates into the air – where it goes from a solid directly into a gas. That’s a process called sublimation and is more likely to happen when it’s sunny outside.
“If you have enough energy hit the snow, it can turn from a solid to a gas, kind of like dry ice, how dry ice works, we just can’t see it happening,” said Boulay.
Snow also melts into water. Using soy sauce, Boulay demonstrated how the water flows through the snow pack within the pockets of air.
“Eventually that snow pack will get compromised, it’ll all get warmed to 32 degrees and it will collapse,” he said
The dirtier snow melts fast because the gray stuff absorbs more energy that the bright white.
The snow can also melt from the top and bottom, but when the ground is frozen, it disappears from above.
Bartz says his sculpture usually lasts until mid-April. Boulay says it’s hard to tell when all or the metro snow will be gone.
“If you want to melt that snow, you have to keep that temperature up all night long,” said Boulay.