MDT Weather Warriors
Winter weather has come early to Central Pennsylvania this year. The MDT Weather Warriors have been working overtime to make sure airport operations are fully functional. The ultimate decision as to whether or not a flight is delayed or cancelled is determined by each airline individually. Many factors go into making that decision, but one factor they need not worry about is whether or not the runway is clear. The MDT Weather Warriors work round the clock to make sure everything is clear and most importantly safe.
Each member of the team is specially trained to operate the various pieces of equipment. The equipment to clear the airside of the airport is valued at $6.5 million dollars. Needless to say training is especially important in maintaining the longevity of the equipment.
The airport has several weather warrior teams; air side, land side and support. All of which must work together to combat a storm. It is not uncommon for staff to “live” at the airport until the storm has passed, sacrificing personal time and family time. It is not an easy or glamorous job but one that is at the heart of any airport operation and certainly the heart of MDT.
Plowing the full length and width of the runway is equivalent to 31.5 miles of a single lane roadway. This team practices months in advance to get the best formation to combat snow. Quite often you will see them take a staggered formation for more efficiency. The equipment is also laying special airport-safe chemicals at an average cost of $190,000 per storm. There are three chemicals you will see used at an airport: Liquid Anti-Ice, Dry Deicer, and Runway Sand. Liquid Anti-Ice is for pre-treatment and close attention is paid to weather forecasts before this chemical is distributed. It is not designed to melt snow or ice, but used similarly to spraying a cookie sheet before baking. The Dry Deicer is used to melt through snow and ice. Lastly, runway sand is used in similar ways to road cinders. This helps provide traction for airport equipment and for landing purposes.
Winter months are extremely busy for any airport. MDT is no exception, but we know that our Weather Warriors are ready to go whenever Old Man Winter rears his ugly head.