Most Memphians rejoice that we only had one snowfall this winter, and it was not nearly as bad as predicted. It is unlikely that the Bluff City will see any more snow this season, but other cities cannot say the same thing. For example, Snowfall in May is not that unusual for Chicago. Residents of the Windy City have also experienced autumn snowfall as early as September.
Now when the topic of erosion arises, it is common to think of flooding and water-related damage. However, water in its frozen precipitation form can also prove to be destructive. As the water cycle has shown, whatever goes up must come down. Likewise, whatever freezes must melt. “Snowrosion,” more commonly called snowmelt erosion, is less studied and therefore less understood than typical water erosion.
Important transportation paths such as roadways, train tracks and airport runways can be weakened by snowrosion. To prevent this, snow fencing, comparable to sand fencing, is often put up. Snow fencing forces windblown, drifting snow to accumulate in a desired place.
Snow also likely increases the risk of beach erosion. Frozen water is heavier than liquid water, and as snow accumulates or large pieces of ice are washed ashore, the soil begins to breakdown. The banks of the Mississippi River disappear for periods of time during Memphis’ rainy season, but a large snowstorm could have an even more severe effect.
Similarly, gully erosion occurs when runoff water accumulates and rapidly flows in narrow channels during or immediately after heavy rains or a rush of melting snow, removing soil to a considerable depth.
The biggest snowstorm in Memphis’ history occurred on March 17, 1892, when 18 inches fell.
In Memphis, Tioga is your expert source for erosion control and prevention, as well as soil and groundwater needs. Our employees are certified (Level 1) in Tennessee Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control, which enables us to perform erosion control inspections on construction sites. You can find out more about how we can help avoid or eliminate erosion issues here.