While most Metro Vancouver residents spend the majority of their year managing lashings of rain, YVR spends a significant amount of time preparing for the possibility of snow. Beginning each summer, Airport Authority and airline teams begin to prepare for the winter season. This includes reviewing and revising plans, readying specialized equipment, ordering supplies and briefing staff and contractors so the entire airport community is ready to manage winter weather.
On December 19th, a near-record one-day snowfall descended upon Metro Vancouver. YVR staff enacted the snow preparedness plan, which includes using up 80 pieces of snow-removal equipment to keep runways, taxiways and aprons safe for aircraft and passengers. This fleet includes five snow blowers, used to remove snow off the runways and taxiways, blowing a combined 25,000 tons of snow each hour. Four “all-in-one” trucks help sweep and plough the airport’s runways and taxiways. Three sweeper trucks keep the airport’s taxiways clear of snow with 22-foot wide high-speed brooms. Two other trucks are equipped with 26-foot high-speed snow plows. Finally, three trucks are equipped to spread environmentally-friendly solid and liquid pavement de-icing solutions to ensure that YVR’s runways and taxiways don’t freeze over.
While the operations team and partners worked to ensure the safe movement of aircraft and passengers on the airfield, staff and volunteers inside the terminal also worked to minimize disruptions and promote a festive atmosphere. Unfortunately, the unexpected volume of snow received caused some inevitable delays for travellers. The Airport Authority appreciated passengers’ patience as they worked with airlines to get people home for the holidays.
As winter continues, so does the Airport Authority’s ongoing improvement of the snow preparedness plan. If – or when – the white stuff hits again, we have the right stuff to keep YVR operational.