Keeping Runways Safe During Winter

BUFFALO, NY -- Head to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, you'll find two travelers finding humor in their flight being cancelled.

"Ha ha we don't know -- we're just mulling it over until we decide what to do," Maureen Marconi said. "No reasons to get too upset about it -- it's bad for the heart."

"The good news is so far this entire winter neither of our runways has had to close down," said the NFTA's Douglas Hartmayer. "We've had flights cancelled and delayed because of what Mother Nature has done in other cities."

Pilots have the say whether to close runways. When landing, they report what's called the breaking conditions to the towers and crews on the runways. That information is then reported to the incoming pilots, and if the reports bad - they determine whether to close the runways.

"We put down a Sodium format and sand into a mixture down in advance."

Pretreating the runways with this is crucial to help break up the snow. About 40 pieces of equipment are used to keep things moving.

"We have around 14 million square feet of area that we're responsible for clearing out at the airport," Hartmayer said.

Usually the volume of snow is what closes down the runways here in the queen city which isn't the case here this week.

"It's not the airlines fault -- it's the weather and you can't control that," Pat Igielinski said. "Unfortunately that's the way it is."


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