Opinion: Colorado’s fickle weather | PostIndependent.com

Opinion: Colorado’s fickle weather

Ken Johnson
Free Press Opinion Columnist

Shoot, all I was trying to do was get out of Denver and across the mountains.

That’s when I was reminded, once again, of how fickle Colorado’s weather always is.

It was a week ago, and the flight was to leave Denver about 6:45 p.m. But at 2 p.m. it started spitting snow, after the day had dawned bright, sunny and warm.

By sundown it was snowing harder, and the wind was gusting about 20 mph. We were about 20 minutes late boarding since our plane had arrived that late. As we walked out into the cool night air to board the plane, I noticed the snow was scuttling past horizontally instead of falling nicely. It was also 16 degrees.

The airport was actually running pretty well, although visibility was pretty scanty and everything around the terminal and on the ramp — planes, vehicles, baggage wagons and catering service — was moving very cautiously.

We finally pushed back and started for the westbound runway, passing the entire length of Terminal B, then passing the de-icing line. It had six big jets getting service at that moment.

A left turn around them, then a right turn to the west and another to the north, and we were headed toward the runway.

Ah, we said, after we stopped short of the runway; we were going to be de-iced out here where the regional jets don’t crowd in with the big boys.

And sure enough, two trucks rolled up, a passenger out of each, and climbed into a glass compartment on the end of a boom; at the bottom of the pod was a fire hose nozzle, obviously to spray the glycol or whatever they were using to de-ice.

The boom rose until the nozzle was just above the wing height, three very bright lights came on atop the pod, and a fog of spray started flowing over the winglet. Then more fog started flowing over the whole wing, slowly coming all the way to the plane’s body.

They were very thorough.

When the driver thought they might be okay, he climbed out of his truck and, with a bare hand, felt the winglet and then the entire leading edge of the wing for ice.

He then climbed back in, moved the rig to the tail, and made sure there was no chance for ice to form.

All the while the snow was streaming past, light and fluffy and with darn little moisture content.

Just another day in the office for the de-icing crew, who spent 55 minutes making certain our Bombardier 200 was safe to fly.

And it was.

GJ Free Press columnist Ken Johnson is founder of the Grand Junction Free Press and former owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He spends his time between the Grand Valley and California.

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