Okay, so it is not snowing right this minute at Bangor International, but we have had 49.9 inches of snow in the last ten days and almost 100 inches since November 1st. It is -3 degrees with a wind chill many degrees colder as I write this and the forecast is for snow starting Sunday morning and ending on Tuesday – again. And just this week the National Weather Service notified us “that Bangor has set a new record for the most amount of snow in a short period of time. There was no snow on the ground as of January 24th. Since then 45 inches in 9 calendar days.” (Not a record we were striving to break by the way.)
So far this winter has been challenging for all of us but no more so than for the BGR Snow Team. It is one thing to have 18 inches of snow in a storm and quite another matter to have just under 50 inches in ten days with a storm every other day or so.
In past winters, there is usually enough time between storms for our award winning Snow Team to “cleanup” meaning they can fine tune the snow removal around all of the signs and lights on the airfield, move snow piles from the ramps, and melt snow as needed.
Robbie Beaton, Superintendent of Facilities, said, “The challenges this snow season have been many. The Snow Team has been working around the clock with no breaks for the last 10 days. With 12 hour shifts and constant snow, extreme cold, and wind, it gets a little discouraging. That being said, we have stayed open and fully operational thanks to their great efforts.” Generally speaking if flights are cancelled it is due to closures at the other end and/or the repositioning of aircraft by the airlines during major weather events.
Snow removal on an airfield is part science, part art. As the storm is forecast, the Snow Team looks at the conditions forecast, i.e. wet, heavy snow, light, fluffy snow, wind, no wind, temperatures, etc., and formulate a plan. As the storm arrives, they adjust for any changes between forecast and reality, determine whether they will need to use fluid or not, what the wind patterns are and then they start their dance on the airfield.
Yes, I said dance because it is like a ballet with precise movements, rhythms, and tempos. It is always amazing to me just to stand and watch them work. If you happen to be at the airport and have a view of the airfield on a snowy day watch for the line of snow equipment moving down the runway or across one of the ramps and be amazed. And if by chance you have the opportunity, please take it to say “Thank you” to the BGR Snow Team for keeping us open and you flying even in a record breaking snow season.