Nick Anderson moves snow with a bulldozer Thursday, March 3, 2011, in the Sears parking lot. The snow came from parking lots around the Capitol. (Pioneer Press: Chris Polydoroff)

 

The awful winter of 2010-11 isn't quite over.

Despite the fact that it's June and the forecast calls for temperatures to climb close to 90 degrees today, you can still have a snowball fight (a really dirty snowball fight) and slide down a snow hill (a really short slide) right here in St. Paul.

In the parking lot of the Sears store on Rice Street, a gigantic white hill rose during the winter as truckloads of snow were hauled from state parking lots around the Capitol.

And it hasn't completely melted away.

During the depths of the fourth-snowiest winter on record for the Twin Cities, the Sears Alps was a steep, jagged, 60-foot-tall heap of snow.

It even became a bit of a tourist attraction, with people frequently stopping to marvel and take photographs of the mini-mountain with half-buried Christmas trees, orange traffic cones and wooden pallets sticking out of it.

Today, the snow pile is a disgusting shadow of its former self - an icy mound a few feet high covered with dirt mixed with garbage, bits of concrete and the odd lost winter glove - melting away like the Wicked Witch of the West. Going, going, almost gone, a bitter end of a brutal winter.

But it still has a few fans.

On Thursday, Roseville resident Erin Larson pulled up to the mound with her sons, Erik, 6, and Peder, 3, and her sister-in-law Greta Kronqvist.

It was Erik's birthday Wednesday, and Larson wanted him to be able to tell his kids about seeing snow on the ground in

June in St. Paul.

"It's disgusting," Larson said as the kids and Kronqvist climbed on the dirty mound and took pictures.

"I think the dirt's an insulation," Kronqvist said.

"Technically, there's snow in there," Larson said.

Actually more like solid ice.

Mike McPhillips Inc., a South St. Paul snow-removal company, had the contract with the state to haul snow to the spot. The company used a D6 Caterpillar bulldozer to push it into a pile.

Running an 18-ton earthmover over the heap meant that "everything got compacted so tight," said McPhillips Inc. vice president and co-owner Mike Edge.

Edge thinks that's why it's taken so long to completely melt away. But even he was surprised by how long.

"I was thinking maybe the third week of May," he said.

Other big snow piles around the Twin Cities are gone.

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