Behind the scenes: Removing snow at O’Hare international airport

airport snow

Flying to or through an airport that gets hit with a lot of snow is a major hassle – if you managed to actually make it to the airport, you’ll probably end up spending a night in a hotel while your airline waits get its planes dug out of the snow.

But as much as we complain, an entire army of snow removal teams have to work behind the scenes to make the airport usable again – and we’ve collected some photos of those teams at work.

Chicago’s O’hare airport is used to snow – but a 20.6″ blizzard hit this week, canceling all flights and requiring the use of some pretty heavy equipment. A convoy of 20 trucks lines up to clear one runway, and needs up to 20 minutes to clear the entire stretch. Once the snow has been blown off the runway, it is collected in massive heated containers, and the water is dumped in the sewer system.

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airport snow

A convoy of snow blowers and plows clears a runway with the Chicago skyline in the background.

airport snow

Singapore Airlines Cargo 747 lands on a nice clean runway.

airport snow

Not your average backyard snowblower!

[Photos by Scott Olson/Getty Images]