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Runways remain clear at Gerald R. Ford Int. Airport despite frigid temps

Field Maintenance Supervisor says the cold weather actually makes the process of clearing snow easier on crews
Gerald R Ford Airport Clearing Runways of Snow
Posted at 6:32 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 19:13:22-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Despite the recent frigid temperatures throughout West Michigan, travelers have been facing few cancellations at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Field maintenance crews say that's because the colder weather alone actually makes for an easier time clearing runways.

On Tuesday there were only five flights canceled—two inbound from Dallas Fort Worth airport and three outbound flights headed there.

While it would seem to some that frigid temperatures would mean serious difficulties clearing the runways, that isn't the case.

“It's actually been beneficial having the cold weather,” said Rory Wolters, field maintenance supervisor at Gerald R. Ford airport.

“The cold weather helps us out a lot because you get the nice, dry snow, which tends to just blow off the concrete, unlike the wet snow that will just stick.”

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On Tuesday morning FOX 17 got the chance to tag along with a crew as they worked to clear one of the runways.

“Right now we’ve got five trucks out here since we haven’t been on this runway for, I'd say, three days,” Wolters said as we drove out onto the airfield.

He says one runway will typically take about 25 minutes to clear—with eight trucks plowing the snow, two trucks blowing the snow, and another truck laying down sand.

They don't use any salt on the actual airfield.

What they do use: liquid potassium acetate and another dry chemical used on ice.

"And sand... a lot of sand."

On Wednesday, the conditions called for a whole lot of sand.

“In cold weather like this, we won’t use any chemical or anything to get rid of icing, just because it will freeze once you put it down, so we’ll mostly just put sand down," Wolters told FOX 17.

He said that cold weather alone isn't likely to cancel flights. The decision to cancel a flight has more to do with the amount of snow coming down in the hours around your flight.

You can always track any delays or cancellations to your flights through Gerald R. Ford International Airport at their real time flight tracker page.

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