Plow truck drivers work to keep airport open

March 15, 2017 07:44 PM

The conditions at the airport were brutal all day Wednesday.  A number of flights were cancelled, but the airport is and has been open since this storm started.  That's because there's a team of 30 plow truck drivers that have been working around the clock to keep a runway open. 

Timothy Woolston/Airport Operations Manager: “We've had planes taking off and landing on and off today even with the weather conditions…[…]… we're out there brooming the runways, today you saw 5 brooms going up and down the runway to keep it clear, we've been brooming since about 8:00 yesterday, without really stopping at all because of the snow event that's been going on.”

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And what an event it's been -- two feet of snow in a little more than 24 hours.  The airport operations manager let us ride along with one of his drivers on Wednesday for a close-up view of how they're handling it.  Before the wind and snow started, the team decided which runway was the priority based on predicted wind directions. That's what they focus on until Mother Nature let's up.  

But unlike plow trucks on the roads, the airport plows can't use any salt or chemicals. All the clearing has to be done through pushing and brushing.  During the storm, these drivers and air traffic controllers enter into a choreographed dance of sorts.

Timothy Woolston: “It's a well-coordinated dance, we have meetings all year long back-and-forth with them, were in constant communication with them so when there's an aircraft that's 10 miles out they're talking to us on the radio telling us when we need to clear off and then they give the air craft clearance to land.”


Jennifer Lewke

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