I could have visual snow

How else can snowy / icy conditions disrupt airport operations?

In Casey's fabulous answer, he identifies several ways snow / ice can disrupt airport operations:

Persistent heavy snowfall can eventually shut down an airport if it becomes impossible to keep the runways clean, taxi routes become unusable due to snow drifts or snow crossings in persistent freezing rain (or if the deicing fluid runs out, yes, IAH, I see you). This is a temporary issue and the closure would end once conditions relax and facilities keep up.

Are there other ways that heavy snow (or ice) can disrupt airport operations? Could it be interfering with the lights or the navaids? Are there other airport functions that stop or slow down in snow and ice?

Jon story

Let's not forget the poor visibility of a snow storm, which may reduce the number of possible arrivals / departures


There are several ways that snow can affect an airport's operations.

  • Snow (and ice) on the runway can interfere with takeoff by absorbing energy and affect the aircraft after being hit by tires.

  • During landing, snow or slush on the runway can reduce the rate of deceleration by reducing the coefficient of friction, which sometimes leads to hydroplaning.

  • The runway length requirements in dry and wet conditions are different. This means that some aircraft cannot use the available runway in snow / wet conditions.

  • The requirements for continuous cleaning of the runways (and taxiways) mean that flights are delayed.

  • The snow can affect the visibility of the runway and terminal visual markings.

  • The ramp operation can be impaired by snow / ice.

  • When there is a certain snowfall, the airports have to be closed because the aircraft cannot take off / land.

  • It is also snowing in areas around the airport. This means that it will be difficult for people to get to the airport in the first place.

See also FAA circulars AC 150 / 5200-30C - Safety and Operation in Winter at the Airport and AC 91-6A, Water, Mud and Snow on the Runway


Airport employees often have difficulty getting to work.

This is generally fine for the first 12 hours, but soon people will need to stop working and rest, especially those with safety-critical roles who have legally mandated maximum hours of work and rest.

Nicholas Chen

There are several ways in which heavy snow or ice can disrupt airport operations. Visibility would certainly be a problem as tower operators would have trouble visually seeing aircraft and would not be able to accurately assess the distance between aircraft. In addition, ground crews and pilots would certainly have difficulty finding their way around the airport.

SMS from the Tann

Well, snow and ice would stick to aircraft and create a dangerous situation as the airflow over the lifting surfaces is unstable. It would also reduce visibility, although in an ILS it wouldn't be as important other than seeing the runway at near touchdown levels. If there is too much snow or ice it can affect the airport's radar systems.