Metromelt is the is the old name for one of five snow melting machines owned and occasionally operated by The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. They have recently been renamed as the Toronto Snow Melting Machines, as amalgamation has caused the city to eliminate the word Metro from its vocabulary.

Melting up to 136 tonnes of snow per hour, the Sherman Tank of snow removal assists the city on major arteries after a heavy snowfall or ice storm. Similar to the machinery used at airports to deice airport runways during cold weather, the machines take in snow, heat and agitate it with a powerful diesel engine until it's melted. From there, water is drained into sewers.

Metromelt measures 17.4m long, 3.9m high, 3.1m wide and has a ground clearance of 27cm. It weighs 42.6 tonnes, but its weight increases to 56 tonnes when at full capacity. When operating, Metromelt spans and clears an entire and is often followed by Bobcat haulers that shovel the rest into dump trucks.

The city brought the first machine into service back in the 1970s and I vaguely remember seeing them around as a child. Not many people I know can recall them but I remember they were painted yellow (which contained lead and is no longer used) and dingy back then. I often thought that my memory of the machines was fictional and I was somehow too-interested in heavy equipment for my own good.

When I saw one again during the snow storm of '99, I was immediately relieved of my fears. It was melting snow while I was on my way home in the middle of the night. I could see the flashing blue lights of the city's efforts from far away but as I walked toward their slow progress, I walked into one of the strangest feelings of deja-vu.

A convoy of tow trucks sat waiting in the path of the operation, pulling cars out of snowbanks and out of the way of the Metromelt. It trudged along slowly but noisily eating four foot snowbanks and belching diesel exhaust and I stopped to watch the melter, the tow trucks, the Bobcats and the dump trucks work. Despite the biting cold, it was fascinating and one of my faintest memories was relived in their tuned melting routine.

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