How does the MTA deal with snowstorms? Jet engine powered snow blowers

Posted On Thu, January 4, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, January 4, 2018 By In Technology, Transportation

A jet snow thrower in action via MTA’s Flickr

No matter how Winter Storm Grayson is labeled by weather professionals–a bomb cyclone, bombogenesis or a winter hurricane–the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is more than ready to clear subways, buses and commuter railways of snow. The MTA maintains a fleet of super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow blowers and specially designed de-icing cars to tackle the icy mess. For this week’s storm, there will be 500 track switch heaters, 600,000 pounds of calcium chloride and 200,000 pounds of sand to melt snow and ice at subway stations.

Snow blower on the Metro-North tracks in North White Plains after a 2013 snowstorm via MTA on Flickr

A snow blower, via MTA’s Flickr

During winter storms and blizzards, the Long Island Rail Road uses several different types of snow-fighting equipment and materials including 1 million pounds of de-icer, 25 cubic yards of sand, three cold-air snow blowers/throwers, 12,000 third-rail heaters, and 108 track switch heaters. The LIRR even has two excavators, two forklifts, and other work vehicles and trucks on deck to clear the snow effectively. On the Metro-North Railroad, the MTA will bring on an extra 1,500 personnel, 220 portable snow blowers, and 3 rail-bound jet engine powered snow blowers.

While the underground subway stations are mostly unaffected by snowfall, the system’s 220 miles of outdoor track are most vulnerable to snow and ice-cold conditions. According to the MTA, the tracks that run along the Rockaway A and S line, Sea Beach N line, Flushing 7 line, Brighton B and Q line and Dyre Avenue 5 line will be the most affected.

A Hurricane Jet Snow Blower clears a track via MTA’s Flickr

Signal Maintainers clear switches in the Coney Island Yard after a 2014 storm via MTA’s Flickr

The MTA also preps its subway fleet for snow by spraying an anti-freeze agent on door panels, purging air brake lines of moisture to prevent freezing and equipping electric trains with third rail shoes with holes to stop snow from sticking.

And when the snow throwers, jet blowers and de-icer cars can’t do the job, MTA signal maintainers are sent out to clear switches with what looks like a couple of brooms. The MTA created a video about the ways they prepare for winter storms. Watch it below:


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