By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It takes a lot of steel to keep an airport open when snow hits. At BWI-Marshall, some pieces of equipment can do more than one job while clearing runways.

“It’s quite an investment. This multifunction equipment runs us about $850,000 a unit,” said BWI’s chief operating officer Wayne Pennell.

Others, like snow melters, do one job. Turning snow to water when there isn’t any place to pile it.

With something the size of an airport, it doesn’t take a full on blizzard for surfaces to fill-up and trigger an all-out response.

“By regulations, we have to move one inch of snow within thirty minutes from all of our priority one surfaces,” Pennell said.

When snow falls, these crews don’t go home.

“It’s 24/7. We go all around the clock. We have an “a” team and “b” team, and so we go like 12 hours on, 10 hours on, and one team goes and the other team goes,” said equipment operator Dan Pack.

When they’re not working, they sleep and eat at the airport until snow is no longer an issue.

Some winters that’s stretched into a week.

“We consider them professional snow fighters. They do a good job,” Pennell said.

For Pack, the job has one major purpose. “We try to keep the airport open so everybody can get to their families and be with their families.” Pack said.

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Alex DeMetrick


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