The ‘Pi Day’ storm on March 14th, 2017 dumped 30 inches of snow on Burlington International Airport. That storm wasn’t enough to close the airport — but Friday’s winter storm was enough to shut it down. BTV closed at about 1:00 p.m. because of snow, ice and poor visibility, and it remained shut down until 10:30.
The airport hadn’t closed due to weather in nearly two decades. “I have an employee that’s been with us for 41 years, and I just asked him, ‘when was the last time?’, and he goes, ‘about 17 years ago’, and I go, ‘wow!’, so that was pretty impressive,” BTV director of aviation Gene Richards said by phone.
Before the airport closed, one traveler said he woke up at about 4:00 a.m. for his flight and then had to brave an icy drive to BTV. “Everything was showing on time, and I was actually quite stressed getting checked in and getting through,” Ingimar Davidsson said. “And then we got delayed by an hour, then another hour, and now another hour.”
Airline crews were busy all day Friday de-icing the aircraft. BTV itself has a full crew plowing the runways and other areas. “We’re also applying some de-icing formula to our runway environment to melt that ice, similar to a roadway environment — a little bit stronger out there,” deputy director of aviation Nic Longo said.
Other workers have made the travel difficulties easier to bear. “The entire airport staff — they’ve been absolutely amazing,” Davidsson said. “I know that they’ve been handing out snacks and doughnuts to the passengers waiting, and that’s the upside of traveling to BTV, even though it does get freezing rain every now and again. You know you’re taken good care of here.”
One of the last flights that was supposed to be inbound before the closure was from Chicago. According to Richards, it was either diverted elsewhere or was unable to depart in the first place. “We had three Delta aircraft at the airport — the only three aircraft that are there — and one of them, I believe, had a mechanical (issue) and did not end up leaving,” he said.
Richards added that he expects BTV to be in good shape for normal operation sometime on Saturday morning. He himself was picking up pizzas Friday afternoon for the airport crew members so that they would have something warm and delicious to eat.