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Crews Hold Winter Weather Drill At Pittsburgh International Airport

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - People here in Pittsburgh are used to dealing with and traveling in snow.

But, before the flakes really start flying, crews at Pittsburgh International Airport are brushing up on winter operations.

When winter weather strikes, keeping the roads clear is a full-time job. Now, imagine having to keep the runways clear at the airport.

Today's training exercise focused on snow and ice removal.

First, crews used de-icer on one United Airlines aircraft.

Then, a train of vehicles, armed with special equipment, hit the runway.

The exercise was really to make sure the airport, the airlines, and the FAA's air traffic control are all on the same page in the event of a storm.

"We have 13 temporary heavy equipment operators that aren't here year-round. So, we like to get out there and actually have a live drill, where we actually utilize the entire team so that we can practice coordination efforts, communication efforts, make sure everything is going smooth," Airport Operations and Facilities' Paul Hoback said.

With four runways at Pittsburgh International Airport, even a couple of inches of snow forces crews into action.

However, it's not the snow that causes the biggest issue in winter.

"Freezing rain, ice, is absolutely the most challenging that we face because of all the different things, the different scenarios, the chemicals that must be applied," Hoback said.

Officials with the National Weather Service provide constant updates during the winter, especially during storms.

While the work is challenging, these drivers look forward to it.

"They kind of get excited and they get ready. They prepare all year-round for this. So, I have no doubt that we're going to keep the airport open and safe and operational," Hoback said.

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