PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — There were no delays or cancellations at the Peoria International Airport just one day before a major snow storm hits Central Illinois during Christmas travel week.
Snow is expected to start falling Thursday morning in Peoria, with freezing wind chills to -30 and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.
“The thing that really concerns me is the blowing and drifting of whatever does fall. That will make our crews have to work longer,” said Peoria International Airport Director Gene Olson.
Olson said they have been preparing since October for snow storms, such as stockpiling materials like runway deicing chemicals.
“So now we’re kind of like that race horse at the starting line. We’re itching and ready to go,” Olson said.
Olson said the snow is not a big deal, but 30 to 55 mile per hour wind gusts will be a problem.
“We’re always assessing the condition of the runway…The wind by itself is enough to cancel a flight if it’s blowing out the wrong direction. If its blowing right down the runway, that’s not a big deal. Airplanes can handle that. If it’s blowing across the runway and you’ve got those big gusts, then that’s a bigger issue,” he said.
Some passengers said they are happy they are getting out just in the nick of time.
“I’m from Florida, used to the 90 degree weather and then you come out here and you hear there’s about to be a blizzard the next day after you leave. I’m glad I get to leave before that happens,” said college student Braxton Horsman.
Judy and Joe Stein are flying to Boston to visit family for Christmas.
“It’s not going to be as bad as they previously thought. We’re not going to get quite as much snow which is nice. And we’re leaving early so that’s even nicer,” said Judy Stein.
Olson said the bitter cold will be a challenge, especially when it comes to using outdoor equipment like baggage carts and pushback tugs.
“Those are mostly diesel and gasoline powered. Some of them are electric. The cold wreaks havoc on all of that. So we’re scrambling to find storage spaces indoors to put all those vehicles when they’re not being used, so they start when they’re needed. So that makes it difficult,” he said.
Olson reminds passengers to hide valuables and lock their cars in the airport parking lot.
This article was written preceding any delays or cancellations in the day.