Snow, Ice, Sleet Or Freezing Rain: RDU Is Ready

A few weeks ago, I was running errands after work before heading home. As I was leaving a store, I saw snow flurries.  Apparently, so did many other shoppers around me as heads were tilted skyward as we walked to our cars.  I hope that is all the winter weather we will see this season.   

But, if not, RDU is ready because we have a great team. The Airport Authority, airlines, Federal Aviation Administration and Shops of RDU, among others, work together very closely to make sure that winter weather has as little an impact as possible on your travel plans.

Snow removal drills occur every November at RDU.

Snow removal drills occur every November at RDU.

Together we plan, prepare and test our winter weather response plan. In fact, during the past few weeks, Airport Authority maintenance crews and our contractors have been practicing snow removal routes and plans.

As with any team, each group has very specific roles when it comes to keeping the airport in great shape for flying.  There is no “I” in this team, we all rely upon one another to keep you moving toward take-off and landing.

So, what does everyone do? Here’s a quick breakdown of what our winter weather response team is responsible for.


High above the airfield, air traffic controllers talk to pilots and gather reports of how the runways and taxiways are faring. These conversations enable the Airport Authority to quickly prioritize treating and clearing the airfield by giving us valuable information on possible trouble spots.

Airport Authority

Fortunately, snow is rare at RDU, but when it occurs, we are ready.

Fortunately, snow is rare at RDU, but when it occurs, we are ready.

The Airport Authority takes care of the airport’s infrastructure as well as the traveling public. When winter weather threatens, we:

  • Closely monitor weather conditions and talk directly with the National Weather Service for weather forecasts specific to the airport
  • Make sure taxiways, runways, roadways, sidewalks and parking lots around the airport are clear and safe to use
  • Share information with the entire team on airport conditions
  • Communicate airport conditions to the public via news media, social media and our web site
  • Assist travelers impacted by winter weather with finding ground transportation and hotels with the goal that no one has to spend the night in the terminal
  • Implement a plan to care for passengers experiencing extended stays in the terminals 


A historic photo of airplane de-icing, which is handled by the airlines.

A historic photo of airplane de-icing, which is handled by the airlines.

Our airline partners are a major component of our winter weather response plan. They not only care for their passengers here at RDU, but also look to their destination cities and larger flight network as a whole to coordinate the safest travel for their passengers.

That explains why the airport itself never closes, but individual airlines may cancel or delay flights based on weather conditions here or elsewhere. Our airline partners are also responsible for de-icing aircraft and keeping the area around their jet bridges free from snow.

Shops of RDU

The Shops of RDU is central to our plans. When there are extended delays and/or cancellations, the shops and restaurants in our terminals stay open longer hours to serve our customers.

And, that’s not all. From fueling operations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to RDU Taxi and many, others rest assured that RDU functions as one team ready to continue serving you despite whatever the weather might bring.

Read our previous blog on winter weather preparations.

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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