RDU scrambles to resupply deicer after runway mishap and before next storm strikes

MORRIVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The potential for yet another weekend of wintry weather has RDU Airport officials scrambling to ensure there are enough deicing supplies to keep the ramps and runways safe for air travel. The airport authority board held an emergency meeting Tuesday night approving a $241,770 purchase of additional deicing supplies. The meeting comes just days after a Delta Airlines flight skidded off the taxiway during the height of last weekend's snowstorm.

The scary moments at the airport last Friday may have been on the minds of board members as the panel met with just 24 hours' notice to approve the purchase. After consecutive weekends of winter storms and the threat of a third, RDU is facing the potential of not having enough deicing supplies to keep the runways, taxiways, and terminal ramps safe enough for the aircraft.

"(Last weekend's storm) got us to the point where it severely impacted our ability to respond to the next storm," said RDU Chief Operating Officer Bill Sandifer. "It put us in a situation where quite frankly, as your chief operating officer, I got very nervous."

RDU has sent a message to passengers since December that it was prepared for the winter season. It overstocked the airport with solid and liquid deicer in anticipation of supply chain issues that might slow down the delivery of a resupply. However, operation leaders say back-to-back storms were more than what they planned for and current supplies of solid and liquid deicer are almost depleted.

The board voted unanimously to restock now. Sandifer acknowledged that supply chain issues still create uncertainty about when the deicer will arrive.

"Do we have concerns about getting this order by this weekend? And do we have an alternative? If it doesn't arrive in time," asked board member David Kushner.

"Yes, Mr. Kushner, I have serious concerns," Sandifer replied. "If we have three more ice storms. No, it's not enough to get us through the winter."

The authority board's nearly $242,000 purchase approval will come out of the current year's budget. But if snow this weekend comes before the resupply arrives, Sandifer says airport crews will use everything they have left just to keep the airfield open. Airport roads and parking lots will lose priority.
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