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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Jan. 28, 2014

"Snow" big deal

By Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier 11th Wing Public Affairs

Some people get a day off when it snows, but for a select group of Team Andrews members, the job is just beginning.

11th Civil Engineer Squadron, 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron and Base Operations all assist on the flight line when it comes to clearing the snow from the runway.

Preparation begins well in advance for the snow season, which ranges from Sept. 1 - April 1.

The 11th LRS maintenance team inspects the snow brooms, plows and blowers to make sure the equipment is mission ready.

11th CES assembles snow teams to operate the equipment necessary to clear the flight line of snow.

"Every time it's supposed to snow, we set up a 24-hour operations team just in case," said Staff Sgt. Brent Autry, 11th CES pavements and equipment operator.

Base Ops checks the runway condition rating (RCR) reading, which rates the runway's slip versus grip. This affects how safely planes can take-off and land.

"Without taking care of our job, planes wouldn't be able to take-off," said Senior Airman Scott Steinebach, 11th CES pavements and equipment operator.

The team uses snow brooms, plows, blowers and de-icing chemicals to clear approximately 2.5 million square yards, that's nearly 391 football fields, while dodging things like: barriers, planes, vehicles, drains and fuel pits.

"When it snows, [our] day-to-day operations stop," said Autry. "This is the only mission for the entire shop."

Autry stated that the wind plays an important role on what they can and cannot clear.

"We want to push snow in the direction of the wind, but that isn't always possible," said Autry.

The team has to be prepared to work for extended periods of time, not knowing when the job will be finished.

"The teams work in 12-hour shifts; we work until the job gets done," said Autry. "One time I worked 28 days straight."