Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Driveway Avalanche

Our driveway provides almost no opportunity for me to get snow out of the way. I blow a lot of it over the fence into the backyard, but I also blow a lot of it against my neighbors garage. There is a limit to how high you can go though.

I’ve debated next fall creating a series of wood shelves to set next to the neighbors garage. I could then blow the snow vertically into the shelves and I could get it 10 or 12 feet in the air. It would work as a form of snow fence.


  1. Have you considered a system of wicker baskets? With a conveyor belt? Or what about some sort of snow oven that you could blow the snow into? I think there are lots of good ways to address this important problem. I suggest listening to what the Internets have to say.

    • Jim, I really think that a series of wicker baskets would be a very poor solution. Snow can be very heavy, and speaking as a man that would not be described as light I can tell you that wicker is of much concern. Some sort of belt system that moved snow gently to a location 20 or 30 feet away in the yard would be a welcome addition, but I think all the moving parts would result in too much maintenance.

  2. Piling the snow higher is no solution. I suggest erecting some sort of heating element near the garage. Wire an old refrigerator coil directly into a standard 110 outlet and mount it against the side of the garage. When the snow hits the coil, it will melt instantly. Dig a channel from the garage to the alley to sluice the water away.

    And don’t fret about “safety.” If your kids are anything like mine, a simple “Don’t touch” will suffice.

    • Bingo! Yes. Ever since I heard the segment on MPR talking about the snow melters at the Minneapolis Airport I’ve wondered about a home based solution to this. I think it would actually be pretty easy.

      Start with a real, metal trash can. A good “Made in the USA” one with a bit of thickness to it. Drill a hole toward the bottom on the side for a garden hose, along with a couple of extra drainage holes on the bottom. Set this on top of a burner for one of those Turkey deep fryers. Set a 20lb propane tank nearby and get the fire going. I think this could melt a reasonable quantity of snow. The rub would be where to drain it? Ideally you would run it into the house and down a drain, but that could be difficult. It could just run into the yard, but then you’ll have a small ice rink.

      I think the time for the home based melter has come!

  3. These are great solutions, fellas, but all of them involve the purchase of additional equipment. Since we all know Jamie is a bit of a tightwad, I humbly suggest something a little more “homebrew.”

    A tunnel.

    Yes, forget about the snow ON TOP of the driveway. Just grab the spade you surely have in your garage and dig UNDER the driveway to create a tunnel from the garage to the street. That way the snow, or other debris, can pile up as high as God allows in the driveway and you’ll have safe passage year ’round.

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