June 13, 2022
The Big Dark is upon us and — although it comes every year — many of us breathe a collective Big Sigh. At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) we’re ready for when the weather turns frightful! We’re putting on our puffer jackets, lacing up our winter boots, and pulling out our thermos to keep our hot cocoa steaming hot while we deal with winter.
The truth is, we start to think about snow well before the first flake falls. Learn more about how SEA prepares for winter weather.
As much as 2019 felt like Snowmagedden with more than 20 inches of snow, it’s actually been much worse! In an average year, the airport gets about 12 inches of snow. The biggest snow month in airport history was January 1950, with a whopping 57 inches of snow in one month. (That kind of makes us a feel a little better!)
During the historic snowstorm in February 2019, the SEA snow team removed three million cubic yards of snow from airport ramps and runways. That’s enough snow to fill 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools! Throughout that dump the airport remained open with some flight delays.
The most efficient formation for flying birds and flying jets is that familiar V formation that helps them travel for long distances without getting tired. Similarly, the best way to clear airport runways quickly is the flying V configuration where 20 snow vehicles work together to clear the most snow in the shortest amount of time to get planes back in service. Here’s what it takes:
The National Weather Service (NWS)/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been measuring the official Seattle weather from a temperature gauge between the center and eastern runways since 1945. SEA weather measurements represent the longest continuous source of weather data; combined with an earlier source, NWS has continuous weather records all the way back to 1894. That’s a lot of rain. For weather geeks who want to know more:
For more information on how SEA gets ready for winter, read Winter Weather 101. And watch this space for answers to your frequently asked questions about winter weather.
June 13, 2022
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