Flash flood watch for multiple counties Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning

Snow removal a big task at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Intl. Airport

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Many of those flights were diverted to Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport. That meant crews had to take extra steps to make sure the runways were clear of snow.

On a day like Tuesday, the gear at the airport is lined up one after another -- to make sure planes can take off and land on time.

Several machines called combos that are equipped with plows and sweepers. They push the snow aside and are followed by an industrial-sized snow blower.

The big rigs at the airport do not have to worry about city traffic. But the drivers do have to be on alert for passenger jets -- which is not easy when all you can see is snow.

"You get these whiteout conditions, don't have road markers or street lights you know, everything at night or at times during a whiteout, it all looks the same," said John Sprague, combo plow driver.

Behind the plows and blowers are machines that lay down a sand mixture. They don't use salt because it's corrosive to the planes' engines.

Closer to the terminals, the planes are getting de-iced.

It's a large winter operation that few passengers realize is even going on. That's a sure sign of success.

"It's a very busy atmosphere, and sitting on the plane you never hear those things, there really is a large team of people operating behind the scenes to make sure these flights can land and take off," said Harold Mester, airport spokesperson.