How weather is monitored at the Salt Lake airport

Jan 10, 2024, 12:27 PM | Updated: 1:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — With the incoming snow and changing conditions, you may be wondering if an upcoming flight is on time.

As it turns out, there is a whole team at the Salt Lake City International Airport that works to get flights out safely and efficiently.

The airport was ranked as the fifth most on-time airport in the world. That is due to a lot of moving parts, including two workers behind the scenes.

Much more going on behind the scenes

While passengers can see “delayed” or “on time” on the board, there is a whole lot more going on behind the scenes.

David Huff, airport operations manager for the airfield, is a master at multitasking.

“It says it’s wet, and we added de-ice liquid and de-ice solid,” Huff said.

Huff works behind the scenes in helping coordinate information that lets a pilot know if it is safe to fly.

“We get the information from our weather center and then we decide, ‘OK, what do we want to do?’” Huff said.

He does this from what they call the “Snow Desk,” which, as you can imagine, is a busy job this time of year in Salt Lake City.

“I’m constantly sending updates… let the pilots know,” Huff said. “Let traffic control know. ‘Hey, we have an inch of snow on this surface. Our runways look like this.'”

A team at Salt Lake City International Airport is working to make sure flights can safely take off during snowstorms. (KSL TV)

With anywhere from 800 plus flights a day, Huff measures crucial aspects to give the right heads up, like how slippery the ground is for a plane, letting a de-icing crew know where to head next. All while making sure pilots have the most up-to-date information on conditions before taking off. 

“It gets very busy at times, yes,” Huff said.

Other half of the team

Where the airfield crew focuses on the planes, Jordan Tatton, airport operations manager for terminal landside operations, is focusing on the other side.

“I deal with the people inside up until they get into the airplane,” Tatton said.

In the case of a snow delay, Tatton is in charge of giving those who will be impacted advanced notice.

“All of our tenants, all of our airlines, everybody with ground transportation, like our taxis, and some of the hotels,” Tatton said.

Tatton said they are also helping with other day-to-day passenger needs.

“So, if you lost your cellphone or your wallet or you don’t know where your gate is, our team is also there to help with the basics,” she said.

Around the clock, someone is always at the snow desk.

A chain reaction, Huff said things can get dicey when snow starts falling more than an inch an hour.

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How weather is monitored at the Salt Lake airport