Economic Multipliers (163)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Less flooding can be an economic multiplier for communities.


A neighbor has been snowblowing the gutter by a local storm drain. (Municipalities usually require that fire hydrants on private property be cleared: Storm drains are in the street.) That means less water will back up on the street if snow melts and/or it rains.

I always expect a road to last longer and ultimately develop less potholes and cracks if water can’t pool and then freeze.

Sometimes it’s not possible (or easy) to snowblow around a storm drain. Merely clearing the drain area is of great benefit if you have limited time and ‘power.’ Flowing water undercuts ice and snow rather quickly if it has a clear starter path to a drain.

Many people remove snow from 1-3 feet of their roof edges. That means that any rain which falls on their roofs (and any melting roof snow) has a chance of entering the gutter and downspout systems if they are not iced up.

It also means that it is less likely that ice dams will form in any remaining roof snow if everything freezes after a rain or sleety snow. (Ice dams can cause water to move laterally into framing and upward underneath shingles).

If you lack a snow rake for a roof, it may be difficult or unsafe to easily clear snow from the roof edges (some people install heating systems to keep roof edges, gutters and downspouts clear). If it’s possible to throw a sock filled with salt or some other deicer attached to a rope up on the roof without breaking any windows, you may be able to clear channels for water to drain if you’re worried about ice dams. A break in any ice dam usually gets larger when the water starts flowing freely downward (not necessarily true for flows with ‘slush’ which you may notice in streets and on a larger scale in rivers).

If you use a deicer like salt which can be corrosive to metal systems and harmful to vegetation, keep in mind that ‘less is more’ … enough to work … while minimizing ‘downstream’ damage.

I’ve never yet poured warm salty/deicer water into a downspout extension to get ice out although I’d expect it to work (I don’t want extra salt corroding the concrete or killing off vegetation). I do many times clear ice from the extensions … a necessity if you’re expecting rain and/or snowmelt … and they are easier to clear if you can get some of the ice to melt first.

Keep in mind that fingers do not mix well with cold water, cold metal and ice. Protect your hands and the rest of you well and keep yourself dry. (One of the first swimmers of the English Channel covered their body with Vaseline for heat retention and I’ve used it myself on my face when out in bitter cold weather).

If you use a ladder for anything, take even more precautions in cold weather and make sure someone knows to check on you.

The best advice anyone could ever give related to outdoor work in cold, wintry climates is ‘let nature help you.’

If snow is going to melt, clear enough drainage paths so that drainage helps create more paths (while making any remaining snow lighter).

If it is cold and dry, think about how evaporation and sublimation (the evaporation of ice) help clear drainage paths and the paths that people normally are on. I sometimes sweep coatings of snow off of ice. If and when the sun melts the layer between the ice and the pavement, the ice can more easily be shoveled or scraped away. Deicers also work through ice and create this layer underneath.

If snow is relatively dry and it’s hard to shovel things like thick tracks left by a vehicle, an ice scraper can help pop the tracks up before shoveling everything else. The (removed) packed snow doesn’t get a chance to turn to ice.

A clean broom or foam ‘rake’ protects paint surfaces on cars. Recently I saw someone cover door side mirrors with plastic bags and rubber bands (pre-storm) to keep snow and ice off of them and know that some people use tarps, window covers and/or window coatings to minimize the impacts of weather … particularly ice.

Wrapped in black plastic (bags) and/or set on sunny pavement, a downspout extension clogged with ice may get warm enough to melt just enough ice to unclog it. For metal pipes, a coffeepot full of hot water can be helpful (pour slowly).

If you expect snow that stays and then rain and/or melting and then freezing weather, think about all the different ways it’s possible to prevent ice dams and promote drainage. If you have ‘handy’ neighbors, pay attention to how they do things.

No one in this area (anymore) shovels out by hand a ten foot plus drift of snow on a county road that plows of those years couldn’t handle so milk haulers could get through. The thought that some people (now passed on) at one time did makes clearing a storm drain seem like a pretty easy task.

It’s usually easier to be grateful for the things which exist when you occasionally think about the things which at one time didn’t.

There aren’t many things as beautiful as a fresh coat of snow (especially if you can figure out how nature can help you prevent flooding and do some of the snow and ice removal work!).