HEBRON, Ky. - Although it appears the Tri-State will have great weather over the Thanksgiving holiday, Cincinnati's major airport says it's well prepared for the worst this winter.
On Thursday, Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport held its annual snow team drill by bringing out three dozen of its heavy dump trucks, snow plows and snow brooms to for tests on a shutdown runway.
CVG has over 100 people at the ready to clear snow on runways within a half hour. Depending on how much snow the airport sees, snow removal costs can run from $3 million to $4 million a year to keep planes landing and flying out of the airport.
Clearing a single ramp of snow can equal the amount of snow on as many as 211 football fields. Sweeping snow off just one of CVG's runways can be the equivalent of clearing 12 interstate highway lanes for almost 2 miles.
Reporters got to see the drill close up on Tuesday riding behind the armada of snow removing equipment.
What kind of snow season is CVG expecting for the winter of 2011-2012? The maintenance director at the airport answers variable. Shannon Oldfield tells 9 News, "It's my understanding that we're in store for a la nina winter. That's the meteorologists' prediction. It looks like essentially, we're going to have a little above normal temperatures and a little above normal precipitation, so that can mean more snow or that can mean rain or that can mean ice."
Surprisingly, airports like CVG, are not allowed to use salt on runways, ramps or the tarmac where planes will travel because salt is highly corrosive to airplanes and their parts. Instead, Oldfield says Cincinnati airport relies on a mix of chemicals to help de-ice runways. Those chemicals include potassium acetate, depending on the temperatures.
During an average winter, the airport gets over 24 inches of snow and faces 27 snow days.
Freezing rain events average just 3 a year. The average December temperature at CVG is 34 degrees. In January, it dips to 32 degrees and drops by one more degree average to 31 degrees in February.
The average March temperature at the airport is a balmy 44 degrees by comparison.
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