Calculating Snow and Icing before Takeoff


Snow and ice on a plane’s wings can prohibit it from gaining lift and taking off safely. Airlines and airport operations personnel need detailed information on the amount of ice and snow that can accumulate and dilute deicing fluid and how much time a plane can wait between deicing operations and takeoff.


Weather Support to Deicing Decision Making (WSDDM)

NCAR research found that the icing hazard for aircraft directly corresponds to the amount of water in the snow, rather than visibility. It is the latter that had traditionally been used to determine de–icing and take off decisions. Refocusing on the amount of water in the snow, this finding led to the development of WSDDM.


WSDMM provides airline and airport operations personnel critical information on the timing and effectiveness of aircraft deicing fluids. Use of the system during de–icing operations has been shown to reduce end of runway deicing; a significant cost savings. United Airlines saved $1M in one snow event at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.


Please direct questions/comments about this page to:

Scott Landolt

Project Scientist II