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Look up in the sky! It’s sleet! It’s snow! It’s potential hazmat!

2/11/2015 | Real Estate Blog

The East Coast is having an interesting weather year. Philadelphia has mostly seen the “wintry mix” that proves so deadly on the roads, but we have seen more precipitation than usual. According to the National Climate Data Center, the city has logged 5.5 inches of precipitation since the first of the year, a notable increase from the usual 3.8 inches.

Of course, precipitation does not equal snowfall. The National Severe Storms Laboratory says that, on average, 1 inch of rainfall corresponds to 13 inches of snow. The composition of the precipitation — snow versus wintry mix, for example — changes the ratio to as low as 1 inch of rain to 2 inches of sleet. It’s somehow comforting to know that the added hassle of shoveling slush is worth more than the comparative ease of blowing a few inches of fluffy snow off the sidewalk.

Boston stopped measuring its snowfall in inches a couple of weeks ago. A rapid-fire series of snow storms has put the city under several feet of snow. There is so much snow, it seems, that officials aren’t sure where to put it all. During this week’s storm, the Boston Herald reported that the snow dump of last resort could be the harbor itself.

During these months of freaky and dangerous weather, we tend to focus on the immediate effect of rain, sleet and snow. How does it affect traffic; how does it affect travel? Where does it go so the city isn’t paralyzed?

It will be a few more weeks before we start to think about the aftermath of these storms: the effect on crops and livestock, the risk of high water and flooding, and, of course, the effect of all that snow and sleet and rain on the environment. By that time, of course, it may be a little too late to do much about a risk that wasn’t anticipated — anticipated years ago, that is.

Land use experts know and real estate developers quickly learn that all that precipitation has to go somewhere. That means we have to deal with stormwater runoff, and that can be a touchy subject in a diverse economy.

We’ll explain more, especially about Philly’s runoff rules, in our next post.

Source: Mainline Media News, “ runoff in Radnor – Main Line Suburban Life,” Linda Steinlstein, Feb. 8, 2015