January snow keeps Iowa Air Guard up at night

  • Published
  • By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

Several snow events in January have kept Iowa Air National Guard civil engineers up late, and arriving to work early in order to keep air operations going.

According to Master Sgt. Brett Robinson the main snow clearing priority at the base is clearing the aircraft ramp area.

Robinson, who normally works in power production, says there are a lot of considerations when moving large equipment around, especially when it is still snowing or blowing and often still dark.

“When its dark and the snow is powdery we can’t see any vehicles,” said Robinson.

In particularly snowy seasons like this January, Robinson says piling snow around the aircraft ramp presents concerns for the unit’s KC-135’s as they taxi in and out. 

Plow drivers need to make sure the snow doesn’t get too high where there are concerns about minimum wing tip clearance.

After each snow their goal is clearing enough places for 185th employees to park cars along with clearing the aircraft ramp area in time for typical work day to begin. Robinson says depending on when the snow falls, getting the snow cleared often means late nights and very early mornings as well as working holiday weekends.

“You just kind of get what you get,” said Robinson, referring to this weeks back to back snow storms.

Snow removal operations at the Air Guard in Sioux City are coordinated with Aircraft Maintenance and Air Operations Groups. Robinson says the most important part for snow removal is the unit’s flying schedule. 

The Air Guard unit in Sioux City has about $2 million worth of snow removal equipment that includes Oshkosh H-Series Blowers, Front Mounted Broom trucks and H-Series plows.

Civil Engineers say the newer and more reliable equipment allows them to spend more time moving snow and a less time repairing equipment. Getting the snow cleared quickly is especially important when trying to ensure 24-hour air operations for the unit’s air refueling mission. 

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