Airport gets set for another dose of icy weather

De-icing planes at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (Courtesy: Glenn Smith)

Despite the 37 cancellations at ABIA, spokesperson Jason Zelinski said conditions during Tuesday’s inclement winter weather “weren’t bad.” Runways and taxiways are clear and airlines were de-icing, but they didn’t find it necessary to de-ice the runways. In fact, a number of flights are still on time.

Although Zelinksi said conditions here could have an effect all across the country, he said there was more ice during last week’s spot of winter weather. Travelers are advised to arrive early and allot extra time to get to the airport.

If you fly in or out of Austin in nasty winter weather, you can thank Emilio Ortega and his coworkers for clearing the runways.

“Being that I was raised real close to an airport, it just did something for me,” Ortega said of his position as a heavy machine operator at the airfield.

Ortega spent Monday bracing for the possibility of winter weather at ABIA.

Before Ortega goes out, Scott Madole and others are watching the conditions.

“(This machine is) generating a graph of what the runway looks like when it comes to its friction,” said airport operations manager Scott Madole.

The machine, which is towed behind a truck, tells officials whether or not it is not too slick to land.

“When we start seeing the temperature go down about 36, 34 (degrees),” Madole added, “we start looking for deicing.”

If the weather gets too bad, ABIA officials shut down the west runway. Then, crews can focus on taking care of just one runway.

“Not only could we some weather here in Austin that may impact flights, but most notably, Houston, which is really close and could experience some cancellations,” said airport spokesperson Jason Zielinski. “They’re already looking at possibly canceling some flights.”

Crews at the airport were set to come in Monday night with another shift early Tuesday morning to deal with any weather threats. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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