If you have ever cleared a sidewalk after a snowstorm (like I did this morning), you’ve probably noticed that shoveling snow is a lot of hard work.

I wondered just how hard I was working to shovel our porch and sidewalk, so I did some rough calculations. 

Not knowing the weights or masses of snow or water in American customary units I did it all in metric units because it’s so much easier.

Using a construction tool, I measured the snow as being about 13″ deep, or about 33 cm (1/3 of a meter). I shoveled a path that was roughly a meter or so wide, and a grand total of about 21 long paces (roughly a meter each) in length.

Which means I had shoveled a volume of 1/3 *21*1 or 7 cubic meters. If that was all liquid or solid water, that would be exactly 7 metric tons. But snow is about 90%air, so if we divide that by 10, we get 700 kilograms instead, or about 1500 pounds of fluff.

 Huff, huff, puff indeed.

By the way, my son Josef Brandenburg, a DC-area fitness expert and personal trainer, has a nice interview with Bruce Depuyt on the right way to shovel so that you don’t throw your back out and end up in the emergency room along with many thousands of other folks. (I didn’t.)