Snow Melting Machines Work Overtime In Evanston

CBS's Marie Saavedra reports Evanston's snow melters are cleaning up the city in a very fast way.

Video Transcript

- It's a magic trick that even Houdini would marvel at. [INAUDIBLE] go in one end, and it comes out as water in the other. This melting machine is hard at work in the northern suburbs. CBS 2's Marie Saavedra is live in Evanston to show us how it works. Mary.

MARIE SAAVEDRA: Well, Erica, it's a pretty unique look, and we know that because our team worked the phones today. We called Skokie, Plainfield, Joliet, Wheaton, Mokena, Oak Park, and Lockport-- oh-- and we learned that they do not have one of these industrial snow-melting machines. Evanston does though, and it's helping them answer this question of where are you going to put all the snow?

Three days after a foot and a half of snow fell in Evanston, and we found the only place in the city where some of it is actually melting. The man in the cab of this loader is Daniel Kwiecinski.

- Everybody calls me chisel.

MARIE SAAVEDRA: It's an apt nickname as he's carving into this huge pile of snow. It's been cleared from the downtown area and big parking lots, now stacking up at the service center.

DANIEL KWIECINSKI: Put all the snow in a parking lot and stack it up and just let it melt. And it gets really dirty.

MARIE SAAVEDRA: But for at least the last decade, Evanston's had this, an industrial snow melter, to clear tons of snow long before mother nature ever could. It starts with a 2-ton load dumped in this hot tub of sorts.

DANIEL KWIECINSKI: There's a 12 million BTU burner on the snow melter, and it blows in a tank of water. And through a cylinder, it comes up and goes over. The water goes over the snow and melts the snow.

MARIE SAAVEDRA: It then catches any big debris before pouring that water into the city sewer. Turns out the city of Chicago is also using these industrial snow melters any time we get big accumulations like this, but only in two spots-- at O'Hare and Midway airport. Streets and Sans tells us, at this point, they're not using them to clear snow out of neighborhoods.

Instead, the department is relocating snow to lots like this one at Guaranteed Rate Field, where we saw crews dropping off truckloads Thursday. The city says it's prioritizing clearing piles from outside schools, hospitals, fire, and police stations. But there's a good chance that that pile will still be here in a few weeks. By then, Evanston aims to have its most towering snow banks down the drain.

Now just in the short time we were with that crew, they melted 25 tons of snow. They say at a full clip, it can do 60 tons in an hour. And numbers like that are really helpful when areas see this much snow like the lakefront has seen. We are live in Evanston tonight. Marie Saavedra, CBS 2 News.