gregarious119
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Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:55 am

I am using the recent DEN blizzards as an example for this question.

Most airfields have all the markings (signs, runway warning lights, etc) all in the grass next to taxiways and runways. Lights are also installed at the edges of most concrete surfaces.

When an airport gets snow, 2 ft. or more in some circumstances, how does the airport handle the "unburying" of all those markings? It's no too complicated to plow 3 miles of asphalt, but how do they manage to deal with all the lights and such that are on the ground?

Has any airfield ever toyed with markings that were higher than normal (3-5 ft.)?
 
Tom in NO
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:29 am

The FAA's Advisory Circular for use by airport operators in the development of a snow removal plan is at:
http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraff...edia/150-5200-30A/150_5200_30A.PDF

Quoting Gregarious119 (Thread starter):
how do they manage to deal with all the lights and such that are on the ground?

More than anything, airport familiarity with the various members of the snow removal crew would be paramount.

Quoting Gregarious119 (Thread starter):
Has any airfield ever toyed with markings that were higher than normal (3-5 ft.)?

Not having experience working at airports in the snow belt (22 years in LA and MSY for me), so take this for what it's worth, most airports in the snow belt mount their runway and taxiway perhaps 18 inches to 2 feet above the ground. Higher than that and you would probably start screwing with pilot's frames of reference.

Tom at MSY
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PVD757
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:46 am

In areas that get snow regularly in the winter time, it is common practice to have additional asphalt past the usable surface(read edge line) that is called a snow strip. In order to enhance the ability to see these edge lights(at least on taxiways) they add reflective sticks to the light bases that will illuminate when light is shined on them. They will also break off maintaining the concept of frangibility in the safety areas.
For resurfacing and new construction, the FAA recommends airports in the "snow belts" to reconfigure the edge lights away from the edge line. This serves two purposes. The first has to do with height of edge lights. You have a transtional height that must be adhered to, whether it's placement of lights, wig wags, etc. in regards to engine clearance for aircraft. Remember, and aircraft does not have to always follow the centerline, it just has to stay inside the edge lines in order to be on the taxiway. The distances and heights for the lights are as follows: adjacent to the edge line, they start out at 14 inches high. For every 1 ft away from the edge line the height can go up 1 inch. The optimal spacing from the centerline is at 10 ft. That means the light can be another 10 inches higher for visibility purposes. The second reason they move the lights off the edge line is so you can plow the edge line and remove significant amounts of snow, etc. from the painted surface. It probably won't make a big difference for a day or two, but you will be able to see the edge lines a lot quicker than if you didn't do this. My airport plows up to the edge lights and makes a "back cut" with another plow and pushes the snow away from the lights to reduce any buildup around them, increasing visibility. As far as signs and other objects, we've dug them out by machine or at least attempt to not bury them, knowing that they help pilots get from point a to point b on the airport. Anything that becomes obscured, destroyed or damaged, we NOTAM out for accuracy. Airports will also pre treat, depending on the projected weather forcasts, in order to reduce icing and buildup near freezing conditions.

Some larger airports untilize low visibilty centerline lights that help pilots stay in the center of the taxiways and they are quite bright. Also, an airport will be a mess during a snow event regardless of how good a job can be done. Sometimes, it's just a matter of the snow coming down faster than the workers can remove it.
 
FlyHoss
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:56 am

FWIW, many of DEN's taxiway signs were not visible, due to drifts or piles, for a few days after the big pre-Christmas blizzard. Planning the probable taxi route (after landing) to the gate or from the gate to the departure runway is especially prudent in such conditions.
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don81603
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:02 am

This may sound like a foolish question, but would rumble strips like those on the fog lines of interstates be useful along the edge of a runway to give a pilot a warning if they were straying from the taxiway? Would the pilot even feel the vibrations if the tires were on the rumble strips?
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JBo
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:53 am

Here at MKG, the taxiway/runway edge lighting and guide signage are off the edge of the pavement in the grass. In the winter, the maintenance crews typically use a large truck-mounted snowblower to clear out the plow ridges along the runway edges and clean the snow away from the lights. Usually cut a path one side of the lights, then another path off the other side, with some cleanup between.
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RNOcommctr
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:57 am

It is not uncommon for taxiway lights and various signs to be cleared by shoveling by hand. Motorized equipment cannot reach all critical items.
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RNOcommctr
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:08 pm

Coincidentally, one of our airfield maintenance guys just stopped in here at the RNO communications center. He says the airport just bought this piece of equipment which does several things, including cleaning out the areas around signs and lights. Cool!!

http://hagie.com/english/equipment/s...ialty/airport/runway/edgelight.cfm
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Boston92
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RE: Taxiway Markings During Blizzards

Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:43 pm

Well, during a blizzard, or any snow storm for that matter, plows are out plowing throughout the storm, so that the arprt will never get passed a couple of inches in any given area. Once the storm starts, they send plows out, and those or other plows will be out there until the storm stops to ensure that none of the problems that you describe happen.
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