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How Does Snow Get Cleared From The Runway At MSP Airport?

RESOURCES: School Closings | Live Radar | Weather App

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A major snowstorm is set to move into the Twin Cities, bringing upwards of eight inches of accumulation to the metro. Plows will start clearing the city streets, but how do airports make sure their runways are clear?

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport released a video which explains the process on Friday.

In all, over 150 pieces of snow and ice removal equipment make up a fleet to ensure that flights leave on time, all coordinated by about 100 people from departments around the airport.

Depending on the time of day, the runway will close for roughly 15 minutes for snow removal, according to the video. A formation of 15-23 vehicles - made up of plows, brooms, blowers, de-icers, and sanders - all clear the snow, and then a surface friction testing car follows the line.

MSP Snow Removal
Formation of equipment to remove snow (credit: MSP Airport)

The car travels at 40 mph down the runway, while a fifth plane wheel is lowered to determine whether the runway is safe to use.

According to the video, airport electricians clear the snow from all the runway lights by hand.

After the snowstorm, crews can stay on site for days to keep removing snow. Some piles are moved off-site to melt, while other chunks are taken to one of four airport melters, which can melt up to 150 tons of snow an hour.

Electricians Clear Runway Signs At MSP
Electricians clear runway signs at MSP Airport (Credit: MSP Airport)

Friday's snowstorm will impact southern regions of the state. Snow started to fall around noon, and areas south of the metro could see over 10 inches of snow.

It's the first major snowstorm of the season. To stay on top of the forecast, click here.


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