ERIE, Pa – The roads have been a mess for drivers, but they’re not the only ones having trouble getting around. Travelers expecting to fly into, or out of, Erie International Airport are also having some difficulties.
Crews at the airport were working hard to clear the main runway, taxiways, and ramp areas all day long. It typically only takes about an hour to clear the main runway, depending on the type of snow.
The airport utilized several plows, including two new pieces of equipment that combine both plows and brooms.
“It’s a monster of a truck and it can clear a runway fairly quickly,” explained George Doughty, the Executive Director at the Erie International Airport.
They also treat the freshly plowed area with chemicals to melt ice or snow, or with sand to increase the amount of friction.
Though they’re working hard to clear the snow, the problem is, they can’t do it if they can’t see.
Doughty says, “The problem we faced with this particular snowstorm was the amount of time that there was literally no visibility on the airfield. We can plow it, we can keep it open… but when you can’t see… you can’t plow safely. So that prevented us from really keeping the airport open. We didn’t get any breaks between the episodes of lake effect…. at least not long enough to really do anything.”
Although Erie International is a smaller airport, flight cancellations are still causing problems for travelers. Deidre Walsh even spent two nights sleeping on the floor of the airport.
Walsh says, “The seats aren’t too bad, I tried to lay on the floor for a while with my coat as a pillow…and it wasn’t the most comfortable.”
She flew to Erie a few days before Christmas to spend the holiday with her family. She got to the airport at 2:30 pm on Christmas. Her original Delta flight to Portland, Maine – through Detroit – was canceled.
She tried again the next morning. That flight was also canceled. Now, she’s trying again tomorrow.
Her sister, who lives in Millcreek lives on a dead end road and can’t even get out of her neighborhood. Her elderly father lives in Meadville.
Despite being stranded, Walsh remains positive, saying, ” [I was] very sad and frustrated at first cause I let out a huge cry yesterday and I just realized, well, I’m going to get home eventually. I have enough money for the vending machine, I have my ticket, I have everything I really need here.”
As for the airport, they’re playing it by ear.
The airport recommends that passengers check the statuses of their flights before heading to the airport, they can do that through the following link: