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Defying spring, snow pile survives heat, extends stay

The dirt-encrusted pile of snow lives on despite intense heat. The dirt-encrusted pile of snow lives on despite intense heat. (Jaclyn Reiss for The Boston Globe)
By Jaclyn Reiss
Globe Correspondent / June 11, 2011

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At first glance, the 5-foot high pile of dirt in a lot near the AMC Theatres’ overflow parking in Framingham does not leave much of an impression.

But looking closer, underneath the inch-thick sediment and discarded beer cans, vodka nips, and BIC lighters, a sheet of ice and snow lives on, months after the winter’s blizzards.

“It’s awesome and cool that it still exists after all this time,’’ said Framingham resident Terry Wing. “The fact that it existed through the weather changes is pretty amazing.’’

Margaret Carroll, biology professor at Framingham State University, gave a scientific explanation for the snow pile that won’t die. “It takes a lot of energy to melt frozen water,’’ Carroll said.

“You have the issue of what we refer to as surface area to volume ratio,’’ she explained. “When you pile it up and on top of each other, you end up with a large volume. Everything inside is well insulated by the snow.’’

Although Carroll said she has not seen the pile herself, the layer of dirt could be either adding or detracting to the mound’s height.

“I don’t know how thick the dirt is, but if it’s thick, it might act as insulator,’’ she said. “If it’s a thin layer, then the darkness would actually absorb heat.’’

The landlord responsible for the lot, and the Framingham Department of Public Works did not respond to calls inquiring about the snow pile.