Snow Ramps: Sometimes Awesome, Sometimes Deadly

A few weeks ago, Wisconsin driver Chris Weber lost control during icy conditions on Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge. But instead of hitting other cars or smashing into the guardrail, his truck went up and OVER the side, thanks to a “ramp” of accumulated snow that had been plowed into the shoulder area.

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After clearing the short railing, the Ford Ranger fell some 30-40 feet to the ground below. The impact killed the driver, leaving locals debating about barrier heights, bridge closure procedures, and even snow removal practices.

Snow ramps are not a new phenomenon. As plow trucks clear the travel lanes, snow is pushed aside into the shoulder area. For most surface roadways, this roadside area is merely a place where one could get stuck. But a nearby barrier or wall can allow plowed snow to form a slope. If the snow reaches high enough, you have yourself a ramp.

The snow is already partially compressed from the force of the plowing, which gives vehicles something to climb instead of pushing through a bunch of powder and hitting the wall. Is also takes a long time to melt, often re-freezing multiple times into a more solid mound.

Bridges present an additional layer of potential hazard. As explained in the video below, they suffer from not being insulated by the ground, and can freeze long before surface roads do.

So please, fellow Oppos, take care out there, and think twice before taking it “off any sweet jumps”.

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