Denver International Airport needs a whole lot of snow-removal tools to clear out the roughly 80 inches of snow that fall on its runways, roads, and parking lots each year. Here are some machines to watch for the next time you and your truck-loving kiddos have a snow day at DIA—plus fun facts to share!
Job: At an impressive 72 feet long with a 24-foot plow and 22-foot broom, this aptly named multifunctional machine can plow the runway while simultaneously sweeping any leftover powder off to the truck’s side.
Fun Fact: Staggering several multifunctions behind each other in a diagonal line allows them to clear snow off of the nearly two million square feet of a runway in less than 15 minutes.
The Snow Blower
Job: Snow blowers do just that: blow snow. DIA uses these mighty powder-flingers to remove snow from its runways so that planes can take off and land safely.
Fun Fact: Snow blowers can throw snow more than 300 feet—that’s about 60 feet farther than the best NFL quarterbacks!
The Snow Melter
Job: After piles of powder are dumped into the snow melter, this machine uses its preburner (basically a standard turbine engine) to turn snow into water so it drains away from the runways.
Fun Fact: The snow melter can liquefy 600 tons of snow in an hour, which means it could make 1.2 million 16-ounce Slurpees in just 60 minutes!
Job: DIA’s diesel-powered snowplow clears off parking lots and roads around the airport, while also dropping magnesium chloride to minimize ice production.
Fun Fact: Though it can weigh up to 12,500 pounds—almost as much as an adult male elephant—when fully loaded with liquid deicer, the snowplow can hit a top speed of 85 miles per hour. Safety first, though, they only drive it 10 to 15 miles per hour in parking lots.