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White Ops

By Donna Speidel
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    Were you part of the Snowpocalypse this winter? Despite the silly media-induced name, this past season often lived up to the hype. Few were spared as snow and icy conditions ravaged airport operations nationwide right into April. The impressive snow accumulations were only outdone by the number of overtime hours paid; I guess that makes up for the fact that had you asked for vacation time over the winter, it would have only resulted in laughter.

    With all hands on, the multifunction equipment, plows, sweepers, blowers, and chemicals berated pavements and any markings in their paths. For many airports it's going to mean that summer will be spent replacing a lot of markings, particularly if they were thick or marginally adhered prior to Snowmageddon.

    For example, we assessed an airport that repainted its runway centerlines in between February storms because they had already been obliterated by snow removal equipment. Those centerline markings had been applied less than six months before. Assuming our recommendations are implemented, they will make the markings last longer than the one year (or less) they've become accustomed to.

    Irrespective of how long markings should last, airports that have historically painted everything every year will continue to do so; their momentum dictates it. Like a snowball tumbling down a hillside, the longer it goes undisturbed, the bigger it becomes, and the harder it is to stop; unless you’re in a plow! All airports should be having a conversation about how marking performance and durability can be improved.

    More and more airports are asking about alternative ways to maintain the markings. Like a multifunction plow/broom/blower can change the game during "White Ops", new methods will guarantee less headaches and expenditures in the future.

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