This Huge Jet-Powered Snow Thrower Keeps New York's Subways Moving During A Storm

As a potentially historic Nor’Easter is bearing down on the Northeast, the National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Warning for Manhattan today, through Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has warned that they will shut down bus service before the worst of the storm hits, and work on the subway for this weekend has been canceled.

When it comes to clearing snow off above ground tracks, the MTA has an impressive arsenal.

The chief tool is the fleet of four jet powered snow throwers, huge machines that use plows, spinning brushes, and dangerous-looking blowers to keep subways moving.

Each can throw snow as far as 200 feet, and remove 3,000 tons of snow in an hour:

mta snow plow

Photo: MTA / Creative Commons


mta snow plow

Photo: MTA / Creative Commons

When it comes to clearing subways platforms of snow, however, the job falls to MTA workers with shovels:

mta worker shovels snow

Photo: MTA / Creative Commons

As it turned out, not much snow hit the city, but the MTA was ready. It also takes care to prepare the trains themselves for snowy conditions:

In advance of the storm, employees begin prepping the fleet: door panels are sprayed with an anti-freeze agent; air brake lines are purged of moisture to prevent them from freezing; electric trains are fitted with special third rail shoes with holes in them to prevent snow from sticking, exposed shoes are treated with de-icers and exposed couplers are covered to keep snow out.

When it comes to clearing rails of ice, there are de-icer cars. Here’s one in action:

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