CLEVELAND — Even though Hopkins International Airport acknowledged dozens of flight cancellations and delays during the Jan. 16 and 17 snowstorm, it reported millions in new runway snow removal equipment was a big help in more quickly clearing runways during the two-day snow event.
Kahlid Bahhur, Cleveland Commissioner of Airports, told News 5 more than dozen new trucks gave his snow removal team the flexibility it needed to more quickly clear runways of the 10 inches of snow that fell at the airport on Sunday and Monday.
“Sometimes mother nature wins, sometimes we win, so it’s a delicate balancing act," Bahhur said “It’s a credit to their training and the equipment that we have here.”
“Sometimes we broom the airfield, we have the ability to plow it, we have the ability to apply chemicals and sand, and other deicing products here at the airport."
“Our operation office continually does friction testing on the runways to make sure that the aircraft are landing safely and departing safely."
Steve Kelly of North Ridgeville and his son were delayed four times in Charlotte as they were trying to return to Cleveland from the Steelers-Chiefs Sunday night NFL playoff game in Kansas City.
Kelly said his American Airlines flight was stuck on the tarmac for three hours at Hopkins, as American Airlines tried to find them a usable gate. News 5 is still waiting for a response from the airline about the delay, but Kelly made it clear the runways were clear when he landed on Monday afternoon.
“The pilot kept coming on every half hour telling us there was no update, I think at two hours I started to get more angry because people were hot, people were coughing," Kelly said.
“Both Hopkins and American Airline offered little to no explanation for the delays, but the clearing of the runway, absolutely fine, I have no problem with that."
Hopkins released the latest snow removal data which showed the 10" snow event at the beginning of the week took 46 hours to clean up, while a just a 5.1" event on Feb. 15 and 16 in 2020 took more time at 48 hours to clear. A similar 10.2" snow event Dec. 24 through Dec. 26 in 2020 also took longer at 49 hours.
Hopkins acknowledged snow depth is not the only factor in how long a snow event will take to clean up, but said the numbers are promising and indicate the new snow equipment is already having an impact.
Still, Bahhur made it clear safety is first and foremost the most important metric in measuring the airport snow removal effort.
“With our state-of-the-art equipment, we can address various types of snow," Bahhur said. “We will never risk the safety of any of our passengers or any of our corporate partners here at the airport.”