Anchorage Airport

(P1) It snows a lot in Anchorage, Alaska, but the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport PRIDES ITSELF ON something that other airports can’t say: It is never closed down by winter weather.

(P2) “It’s a BRAGGING RIGHT,” says Zaramie Lindseth, airfield MAINTENANCE manager. “Anchorage is a top airport when it comes to snow and ice control.”

(P3) On average, more than 6 feet of snow falls annually in Anchorage.

(P4) “In Anchorage, we just plan for it every day,” he says. “For us, snow is not an emergency; it’s just part of doing business.”

(P5) One time, the airport had 27 inches of snow fall in 24 hours. “Even through that event we were able to continue operations,” Lindseth says. “It wasn’t pretty. We did have some DELAYS, certainly, but the airport continued to function and never closed all three runways during that event.”

(P6) Anchorage International Airport is the second busiest CARGO airport in the United States and the fifth busiest in the world, according to the airport. This is largely because it’s within 9.5 hours flying time of 90% of the industrialized world. More than 2 million people — about 40,000 passenger flights — also travel through the airport each year.

(P7) Managers say the 110 men and women who work in the airfield maintenance department are the key to keeping the 33 million square feet of airfield PAVEMENT clear from snow and ice.

(P8) “The guys are great at what we do,” says Brendon Knox, airfield maintenance foreman.

(P9) They also have some help from some high-tech equipment, including million-dollar SNOWPLOWS.

(P10) Equipment operator Jeremy Hans says his favorite pieces of equipment are the massive SNOW BLOWERS.

(P11) “We have three primary runways here all in excess of 10,000 feet long. We can get a runway cleaned in 18 to 22 minutes,” Lindseth says. “Once that runway is done we move on to the next and keep that ROTATION going until the snowfall stops.”

(P12) Snow removed from the runways is piled to the side, but in other areas such as the ramps and plane parking spots, it has to be trucked away and piled in what is called a “snow storage area.”

(P13) Often the mountains of snow don’t melt until the following August.

(P14) After the runway is cleared, sand and several chemical mixtures are spread onto the TARMAC to keep it from icing over. The mixtures are specially FORMULATED so they won’t cause problems with the aircraft or any CORROSION, which is what salt does.

(P15) Lindseth is careful not to criticize other airports that are forced to close when snow piles up.

(P16) “Certainly every airport has UNIQUE challenges,” he says.

(P17) But keeping the airport open in Anchorage is important.

(P18) “There aren’t too many other options in Alaska for aircraft of this size. So it’s CRITICAL for us to stay open,” Lindseth says. “We cannot lose time to a snow or ice event. We’ve got to be ready for it.”

WORDS: 485



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Does it snow much in your area?
  3. What is the longest delay you have ever experienced while traveling?
  4. What is the farthest away from your home that you have ever traveled?
  5. Why is Alaska actually close to Europe?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Pride oneself on
  • Bragging right
  • Snow blower

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