First, Baltimore rented a Snow Dragon from Canada to help melt away mountains of snow, gaining much media attention.
Then, D.C. residents started asking, "Hey, what happened to ours?"
Last week, News4's Tom Sherwood went in search of the noisy, industrial-size heater D.C. bought from Nova Scotia for $120,000 in 2003, but it was hidden from view, unused on a city motor pool and repair lot. City officials said the snow melter needed parts, was difficult to operate and wasn't worth using.
But the city conceded and put the thing back in service over the weekend, maybe just to prove what city officials already knew -- Nova Scotia sold us a big orange lemon. The machine joined 20 10-wheel dump trucks to help clear the parking lot at the site of the old convention center, according to the Department of Public Works.
DPW began using the snow melter at 2:30 pm Friday, February 26, until five hours later when it broke down because of a faulty fuel pump, which was replaced Saturday morning. The melter functioned from around noon Saturday until 6 pm Sunday. While it is still operational it has not been redeployed.
As we saw this weekend, even this parking lot job was too large for the melter to complete and the February storms produced far too much snow and would have overwhelmed the melter’s capacity.
In 2003, the $120,000 mistake was brought to D.C. and set up at 17th and I streets to help clear snow downtown and while it was fairly efficient, it broke down at least once and soon disappeared from public life.