How the Yakima Airport is faring with ice and snow this season - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

How the Yakima Airport is faring with ice and snow this season

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YAKIMA, WA - Last year, Yakima County received more snow than usual, which meant workers had to be quick to keep the runways at the Yakima Airport clean.

Since then, changes have been made. The Yakima Airport has invested in new equipment and looked at different methods on how to best keep the runway safe during winter conditions.

Any type of accumulation of snow or ice there is on the Yakima Airport runway has crews out and cleaning to avoid closing the airport.

"Our maintenance crews are out here at 3:30 in the morning to plow the runways all the way until midnight with a crew to make sure the airport remains open," said Rob Peterson, the Yakima Airport director.

With last year's large amount of snowfall, the airport has invested in new equipment to best keep the runway safe. As of now, they already have snow blowers and will soon be receiving two more. Peterson explains why these machines play a huge role in runway safety.

"With the broom here, the new piece of equipment, we'll remove the snow off the surface and keep the surface in a 5 or 6 condition, which is optimal for aircraft landing at the airport," Peterson said. "Nice, safe conditions that you're landing on...surface that is broomed as opposed to compact snow."

Keeping the runways clean and safe is one of the airport's main priorities because of the speeds planes are coming in at.

"Interestingly enough, an aircraft such as the Q400 with the Alaska Airlines flies in here to the Yakima Airport, they land about 120 miles per hour," said Peterson. "They are not allowed to slow down to a slower speed to land."

Last year, the airport had to close four times during the winter season. So far this year, it's only had to close two times.

The best part of all this is that all the funding for this equipment is not coming from the City or its citizens.

"We do not take any local tax elements from the city," Peterson said. "As well as the citizens within the community, it is all an enterprise fund where anything generated for revenue at the airport like land leases, rents in the terminal, rental cars and so on are actually paid to the airport."