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Idaho Falls Airport keeps flights going through series of storms

Local News 8
Jerome Newman, Outside Operations Specialist working an airport sweeper to keep the runway clean at the Idaho Falls airport.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - (KIFI) - Snow has been piling up around us since Christmas. Idaho Falls has not had to close its airport at all through this series of storms. Some other regional airports can't say that. IDA prides itself on keeping us flying even in our snowiest weather.

It can be challenging to keep track of ground crews, inbound, and outbound flights in very limited visibility. For the crews working the runway, the wind driven snow makes a tough job even harder.

"Visibility is one of the hardest parts especially when the wind is blowing . it comes right up over the top of you," Jerome Newman, outside operations specialist said.  

They continuously work the 9,000 foot runway by sweeping and plowing. Kenny Buttars - Facilities Manager "Then you start all over again or do something else for a while and start all over. Sometimes you think you just never get ahead,"  Kenny Buttars, facilities manager said.

 “We start planning for snow events days in advance," Airport Director Idaho Falls Rick Cloutier commented. "We are continually watching the weather , watching weather updates. About 72 hours ahead, we start having meetings about staffing , equipment issues , the chemicals that we use to pre treat the runways. So we are planning ahead days in advance. As soon as the snow starts, we have crews that are here 24 hours a day 7 days a week until the storm is gone and we can do clean up after that.“ he said.

It's a well choreographed team each knowing their roles and watching out for each other and they have to keep going to stay ahead. 

“We just keep at it. When it is snowing like this you don’t just get off," said Kenny Buttars. "You stop for a break, fuel up grab a snack and away you go again.“

Having the right equipment helps like their new multi-function runway cleaning monster. It has a plow in front, a broom in the middle and a set of blowers on the back.

“That is an expensive piece, an important piece. It's like two machines in one. It can do it with one machine and one person,“ Buttars said.

It might feel like never ending job to keep your driveways open, these crews are working 24 hours a day to keep flights coming in and going out of Idaho Falls.

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Bill Cummings


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