KALISPELL – Glacier Park International Airport crews have been hard at work keeping the runways clear of snow and airplanes on schedule.
Airport Director Rob Ratkowski told MTN News that the airport uses a special grid system to clear the snow and zone the tarmac into differing levels of priority.
The number one priority is the runway and two shifts of 14 plow operators work 12-hour shifts to keep the runway safe for airplanes to land.
The organization of plows is so intricate, plow teams start practicing dry runs in the summer. More snow means the airport needs more help so they are employing 30 seasonal workers from the valley.
Ratkowski says the local workers come from summer seasonal positions and need work in the winter.
“A lot of our seasonal operators are either equipment operators from the construction companies or we’ll get tradespeople who do construction work in the summer and then they come plow snow for us in the winter,” says Ratkowski.
This year, keeping the runway has been challenging with the heavy snowfall and then warmer days that follow. The storms bring snow that warmer days melt creating ice on the runway.