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Consequences of a Deep Freeze

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) With all the snow this winter, the conditions above ground arent very good. But below the surface, some say the permafrost thats forming is even worse. The areas most at risk are high traffic areas that have been cleared. Since the snow has been continuously taken off road surfaces, that means the ground below is likely frozen anywhere from two to four feet down.

"Snow is an insulator so if you're in an area that has windblown snow on it, it'll go deeper in those areas compared to where you have a foot or a snow drift, said Cedar Rapids Public Works Manager Craig Hanson.

But that still means pipes can freeze and water might not get to homes and businesses. Construction projects also slow down because its harder to dig.

That doesnt work for Cedar Memorial Grounds Manager Gregory Blood.

"I've never seen it this deep out in the cemetery, said Blood.

The digging he does cant stop. His crews dig graves. When it gets really bad, they have to heat up the plots with defrosters.

"It just generates enough heat to go down into the ground, said Blood.

Then they prepare the site with a tent and try to keep the area nearby as clean as possible for the family.

"It's something that they really want to be here so they can see their loved one be buried in the ground, said Blood.

But areas of the cemetery that are high-traffic make the ground below freeze more, making the whole cycle a little bit harder.

The process that has Greg and his crew cursing the winter weather actually starts when the sun is out. Drought conditions this past summer left the ground more vulnerable to a deep freeze.

"That makes the cold go even farther down into the ground also when you have desiccated soil, said Hanson.

That frozen soil plays a big role when it does finally thaw out. Frozen ground cant absorb as much water, meaning that water levels are expected to jump when the snow melts.
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