Salt Lake City Int’l Airport clears the runway from the winter storm

Feb 22, 2023, 6:05 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2023, 5:27 am
Crews cleaning off ice on an airplane. (KSLTV/Mark Less)...
Crews cleaning off ice on an airplane. (KSLTV/Mark Less)
(KSLTV/Mark Less)

SALT LAKE CITY — It takes a lot to keep an airport running, especially in the winter and during a big snowstorm like the one that hit Utah on Wednesday.

“This is a major team effort,” said Dusty Bills, the assistant director of airfield maintenance at Salt Lake City International Airport. “The men and women out on these snow teams are some of the best, in my opinion. Very dedicated.”

Airplanes are generally going about 150 mph during take-off and landing. Keeping those runways clear of snow is about as important as it gets.

It’s also a coordinated effort between snow plow drivers, the control tower, and airport operations. The trick is closing runways and taxiways to clear them while allowing planes to use the other runway, then switching back and forth.

“We want to get people in and out as fast as we can and as safe as we can,” said Bills.

However, airport delays and cancellations are just part of big snowstorms.

The Lone Peak High School cheer team was heading to California for a national tournament until their flight was canceled this morning.

“We were supposed to go at like 12 today,” said Emmy Furness, who is a senior and team captain. “Now we’re leaving at about 9 p.m.”

Instead of a direct flight, they’re being sent to Phoenix, spending the night, and then to Los Angeles in the morning. The team laughed that it gives them plenty of time at the airport to practice.

“If anybody would like to have some cheers, we’ll be working later,” said team coach Lori Eisinger with a laugh.

Those snowplow crews could sure use some cheers. It’s been a while since they worked a storm like this one. Close to 17 inches of snow fell at the airport by late afternoon.

“It’s just like the old days,” said Bills with a laugh.

Crews clearing off the runway. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews clearing off the runway. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews clearing off the runway. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews clearing off the runway. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews clearing off the runway. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews cleaning off ice on an airplane. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews cleaning off ice on an airplane. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Crews cleaning off ice on an airplane. (KSLTV/Mark Less)

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Salt Lake City Int’l Airport clears the runway from the winter storm