The snowblower inhales two tons of white stuff a second before shooting it more than 150 feet – half the length of a football field.
This winter, workers will use it to keep 65 acres of runway clear at Casper/Natrona County International Airport. The hulking yellow machine, which arrived last week, can remove more snow by itself than the airport’s two existing blowers can manage together.
That will allow workers to clear the runways faster and more efficiently than before, Airport Manager Glenn Januska said. Snow-related delays should be less likely.
“People notice if we can’t keep up with snow removal,” he said. “This will hopefully ensure that doesn’t happen.”
The airport operates two runways that are each wider than six city streets, minus the parking. Plows can push the snow to the edges, but blowers are needed to eat away snow banks and toss the remains over the
That function is critical for the safety of the airplanes, which need the area clear in case they head off the runway, Januska explained.
“We have to get the snow over the lights and into the infield,” he said. “We do that with the blower.”
The airport’s two existing snow blowers can each move 3,000 tons of snow an hour. The new M-B Companies truck can handle 7,500 tons. Workers can also attach a 22-foot broom that can sweep away lighter snows.
Since the new truck can alone do the job of the airport’s two older snow blowers, it will free up another worker to focus on tasks like clearing the taxiways and roads, Januska said.
A federal grant paid for 95 percent of the nearly $673,000 machine. The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division and the airport covered the rest.
The airport might get another blower before the 2014 snow season, Januska said.
“We have a great reputation for being closed very infrequently,” he said. “I want to make sure our snow removal guys have the best piece of equipment available to them.”