Image: Garbage, snow on New York street
Seth Wenig  /  AP
Piles of garbage mixed with snow still line New York streets like this one on Tuesday. Garbage service has been backlogged after the round of storms since Christmas.
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updated 2/8/2011 5:13:49 PM ET 2011-02-08T22:13:49

The mountains of snow that have covered the Northeastern landscape for the past month and a half are finally melting, revealing oozing lumps of garbage, gaping potholes, bicycles, rat-infested sofas, discarded Christmas trees — even bodies.

More than 57 inches of snow has fallen on New York City this winter, its snowiest January ever, and the story is similar elsewhere around the Northeast. Residents welcomed warmer weather this week before an expected plunge back into the freezer, but they weren't so thrilled about the side effects.

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"This is disgusting. I can't tell if it's snow or garbage or some sick other thing," said Karen James, 34, finding discarded bills, paper cups and sludge in the shrinking mound of snow and ice covering her car. "This stinks."

Since a post-Christmas blizzard dumped more than 2 feet of snow on parts of the city, the snow piles have become as familiar as taxis to New Yorkers, forcing pedestrians to weave single-file through snow-packed sidewalks.

Two bodies were found in vehicles last week. In both cases, a passer-by spotted someone slumped over the wheel after snow melted away from the windows. One man was found dead Feb. 1 of an apparent gunshot wound; he had been reported missing a week earlier. And on Friday, a day after he was reported missing, a man was found dead in the driver's seat of a BMW. Authorities believe he may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

At least one other body was discovered in the New York area in late January, in a parking lot in West Nyack. The man had been dead of hypothermia for several days before anyone noticed, police said.

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The city Sanitation Department is responsible for plowing streets and crosswalks, while residents and businesses are expected to clear sidewalks. After grousing for weeks about the city's failure to plow enough snow, many New Yorkers are now griping about the garbage piles and big pieces of furniture, some crawling with rats.

During the many snowstorms to hit the city, the Sanitation Department suspended garbage collection for days at a time in order to use trucks for snow removal, which meant about 11,000 tons of trash per day didn't get collected. Some of it got buried by the succeeding storms.

Garbage collection has since resumed, but it's not proceeding fast enough for some New Yorkers.

"It's like we've replaced the snow walls with garbage walls," said Brooklyn resident Jill Coniglario, 38. "Even the parks are covered in mud and filthy snow. My kids are not playing in this stuff, that's for sure."

Granted, the mess has been caused by more than just missed collections. People have been tossing loose trash onto the bags, and it's winding up on the sidewalks and streets.

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Plastic McDonald's cups. Broken bottles of Budweiser and empty cans of Four Loko. Cigarette butts. Smashed umbrellas. Sheet music. Soggy gloves. Old newspapers. And damp, dirty sofas — all left out in the open, as if they, too, will just melt away.

And thanks to pet owners who got a little lazy in the bad weather, many city streets are now shellacked with dog feces.

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The combined assault of snowplows and rock salt has created another big problem in the Northeast: potholes.

Crews on the pockmarked streets of New Jersey are applying temporary patches because the more permanent fillings require warmer weather. The winter has also left some bone-jarring holes in Connecticut, including some on a ramp off Interstate 84 in Hartford.

In Philadelphia, yo-yoing temperatures that followed several sloppy storms of rain, freezing rain and snow over the past several weeks have also been unkind to streets. Crews are patching the holes with cold asphalt, a temporary fix until hot asphalt can be used in the spring.

In New York, as residents dug out their cars in recent days, sanitation crews tried to remove the big piles not taken care of by nature. In some places, crews are hauling away the snow in dump trucks and taking it one of 36 giant hot tub-like snowmelters that sit over the sewers. Most of the tubs can melt 60 tons per hour, and in most winters, the job would be done by now, department spokesman Vito Turso said.

"We have had snow upon snow upon snow," Turso said. "It's starting to feel like we're going to see snow on the streets until opening day at Yankee Stadium."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Frozen ground leaves bodies on ice

Map: Storm wreaks havoc

Photos: Deep freeze, snow across U.S.

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  1. Irving, Texas

    This sculpture was iced over Thursday, Feb. 3, in Irving, Texas. (Eric Gay / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Miami, Oklahoma

    A pickup truck that plunged off this snow-covered bridge near Miami, Okla, on Thursday sits in the Spring River. Three people were killed and five others injured. (Gary Crow / Tulsa World via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Chicago

    The Chicago skyline is reflected on a thin layer of ice as a chunk of snow-covered ice floats in Monroe Harbor on Thursday. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Chicago

    Robert Brigs shovels snow on Martin Luther King Drive in Chicago on Thursday. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Iowa City, Iowa

    A car sits abandoned in the median of I-380 between Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Iowa City on Thursday. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Commuters brave subzero wind chills as they return to work Thursday in Chicago. This week's blizzard dumped more than 20 inches of snow on the city. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Racine County, Wisconsin

    A man walks behind high snowdrift in Racine County, Wis., on Wednesday. (Darren Hauck / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Auburn, Mass.

    Officials walk past a building that collapsed in Auburn, Mass., on Wednesday, Feb. 2, after days of heavy snow followed by rain. (Paul Kapteyn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Elizabethtown, Pa.

    A fallen tree weighed down with ice sits on Old Hershey Road in Elizabethtown, Pa., on Wednesday. (Blaine Shahan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Milwaukee, Wis.

    This walkway to Lake Michigan was frozen over Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wis. (Jeffrey Phelps / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Chicago

    A commuter climbs over a snow bank to catch a bus Wednesday in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Chicago, Ill.

    Hundreds of cars are seen stranded Wednesday on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Chicago, Ill.

    Snow piles up on the driver's seat of a stranded Chicago Transit bus on Wednesday after the door was left open during the overnight blizzard. The bus was abandoned on Lake Shore Drive. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Akron, N.Y

    Andrea Todd shovels snow from her driveway with her dog Myles in Akron, N.Y., on Wednesday. (David Duprey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Milwaukee, Wis.

    A wave sends large chunks of ice into the break wall at the Milwaukee Marina in Wisconsin on Wednesday. (Darren Hauck / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Iowa City, Iowa

    Downtown Iowa City, area near the University of Iowa, is a virtual ghost town on Wednesday. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Windsor, Conn.

    People stop along Interstate 91 in Windsor, Conn., to help push a car out of a snow bank on Wednesday. (Jessica Hill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Chicago

    Blizzard winds swirl the snow on an elevated train platform in Chicago early Wednesday. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Buffalo, N.Y.

    Frost forms on a window in Buffalo, N.Y., on Wednesday. (David Duprey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Salem, N.H.

    This car landed vertically into a snowbank after a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 93 on Tuesday north of Salem, N.H. No one was injured. (Tim Jean / The Eagle-Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. New York City

    The Wednesday morning commute in New York City's lower Manhattan was an icy one. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Westfield, N.J.

    An officer blocks the road to prevent pedestrians and traffic from approaching a fallen tree branch and power lines in Westfield, N.J., on Wednesday. (John Makely / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Milwaukee, Wis.

    A cyclist tries to ride during the blizzard in Milwaukee, Wis., on Wednesday. (Darren Hauck / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Barre, Vt.

    A dog named Muldoon waits for its owner, who stopped for coffee on Wednesday in Barre, Vt. (Toby Talbot / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Chicago

    Men help push a car that got stuck in a snow on the Lake Shore Drive in Chicago early Wednesday. (Kamil Krzaczynski / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Milwaukee, Wis.

    Students from Marquette University in Milwaukee to go to the Union Building in blinding snow as a blizzard warning hits southeast Wisconsin on Tuesday. Marquette canceled classes for Wednesday. (Rick Wood / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Chicago

    Cross country skiers navigate through snow downtown Chicago on Tuesday. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Chicago

    Rush hour traffic crawls as blowing snow batters Lake Shore Drive in Chicago on Tuesday. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Columbia, Mo.

    A snow-and-ice covered Chris Gubbels pauses while walking his dog Tuesday in Columbia. Mo. (L.G. Patterson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Chicago, Ill.

    Snow falls on the Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as "the bean," in Millennium Park downtown Chicago on Monday. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. View from above

    This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the winter storm covering much of the U.S. on Tuesday. (NOAA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Fayetteville, Ark.

    A snow plow clears College Ave. in Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday as heavy snow falls. (April L. Brown / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Chicago, Ill.

    An approaching blizzard doesn't stop this fisherman Tuesday on Lake Michigan in Chicago. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Boonville, Mo.

    Trucks disappear into the white snow as they travel along I-70 on Tuesday near Boonville, Mo. (L.G. Patterson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Rogers, Ark.

    Postal carrier Tip Burnett uses a rubber hammer to open a frozen mailbox at the National Guard armory in Rogers, Ark., during heavy snow on Tuesday. (Flip Putthoff / Northwest Arkansas Newspapers vi) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Morning commuters in New York City make their way over a snow covered Williamsburg bridge on Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Port Washington, Wisc

    Icicles form on a walkway along Lake Michigan in Port Washington, Wisc., on Tuesday. (Jeffrey Phelps / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Carmel, Ind

    A Bobcat is used to clear a parking lot of two-inch-thick ice in Carmel, Ind., on Tuesday. (Michael Conroy / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Lancaster, Pa.

    Icy patches made crossing the sidewalk in Lancaster, Pa., a challenge on Tuesday. (Richard Hertzler / Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Owasso, Okla

    Ila Dooley digs her car out to try and get to work on Tuesday in Owasso, Okla. Both of Oklahoma's major airports had to shut down due to the snow. (Mike Simons / Tulsa World via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. St. Louis, Mo

    Snow plows work to remove ice from Interstate 55 on Tuesday in St. Louis, Mo. A blizzard warning was in effect for the St. Louis area, as was a forecast for up to 20 inches of snow. (Tom Gannam / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Albany, N.Y.

    Snow was also falling Tuesday in downtown Albany, N.Y. Most of upstate New York was under a winter storm warning and Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened the State Emergency Operations Center due to a forecast of up to 2 feet of snow in some areas. (Mike Groll / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Denver, Co.

    A woman braces against the cold and blowing snow as she crosses the street in the financial district of downtown Denver on Monday. School officials canceled schools in Denver for Tuesday. (Ed Andrieski / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Pembroke, Mass.

    Scott Buchanan scrapes snow off the roof of his house in Pembroke, Mass., on Monday as his yellow Lab Charlie holds a snow covered ball in his mouth waiting to play catch. (Stephan Savoia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Lexington, Ky.

    Lexington, Ky., police and firefighters work at the scene of an accident after freezing rain moved coated roads there on Monday. A section of Georgetown Road was closed after two separate accidents involving five vehicles. Freezing rain turned the bridge into a sheet of ice. (Charles Bertram / The Lexington Herald-Leader via) Back to slideshow navigation
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