‘It’s very impressive:’ Airport snow removal creates 2-story mound dubbed ‘Mount Mitchell’

Clearing snow at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

MILWAUKEE -- We've survived another round of messy weather but winter isn't over yet, and more snow is appearing in our forecast. At Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, crews are constantly handling the snow removal efforts.

"It's a lot of work, a lot of hours," said David Sweeney.

David Sweeney, a maintenance worker, was eager to finish the marathon of snow removal on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

"If we weren't out here every day cleaning these runways and taxiways, and keeping runways clean for everybody to leave to go out of town. Whenever they want to go, vacations... the airport would be shut down," Sweeney said.

Clearing snow at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

Clearing snow at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

Ridding Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport of snow and ice, Sweeney uses a truck called a combo.

"They call it a combo because it's combination between a plow and a broom," said Sweeney.

Whether it's being pushed or swept, it all ends up in one big pile that's roughly two stories tall.

"It might last until June before that pile is fully melted," said Harold Mester, Mitchell International Airport. "It's very impressive, and we call it Mount Mitchell."

Clearing snow at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

Clearing snow at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

For the workers, bad weather means long days and even longer runways that need to be kept clean.

David Sweeney

"A lot of hours, crazy hours every day, weekends. Get here at 7:30, we don't go home until 7:30 at night," said Sweeney. "It's down to a T exactly what we have to do: when, how, how fast, and we get it done."

The fleet's job is to get it done so you can get going.

In addition to having trucks called combos, the crews don't use salt on the runways because it would damage the planes and grounds they operate on. Instead, they use a chemical solvent to help get rid of ice.

Clearing snow at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

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