Got Snowcat?

Snowcat traces in Wyoming, US
United States
Published: Jan 30, 2016
Weather & Environment

Vaisala Field Service teams are occasionally signed up to provide service to many environmental measurement systems located in extremely remote locations where streets are not maintained. One example to note is in Wyoming, USA. Vaisala services four remote mountain AWOS sites. In the summer, three of them can be accessed by truck and one is located in a no-road area, so Vaisala Field Service would have to use a helicopter to get there. As the winter weather settles in, usually around mid-October through Memorial Day, the roads are no longer maintained and become impassable. With heavy snow and strong winds the only way to access these four sites is with a snow vehicle. Since temperatures can drop in excess of -30° F (-34.44° C) and winds can blow at over 40 knots, it is important to be protected from the elements.

To meet customer expectations and to keep the customer equipment functioning properly, Vaisala sometimes has to think outside the box. The use of a snowcat allows Vaisala to meet contractual obligations while doing everything possible to ensure that Vaisala employees are safe and protected from the harsh environment.

The snowcat can travel over various terrain, from no snow to deep snow. At one site, the snow level can be up to 8 feet deep (2.43 meters) with 8 foot drifts (2.43 meters). The snowcat also provides a warm and safe environment to travel the 30 miles (48.28 km), as well as being able to carry the equipment needed to work on a site. While at a site it becomes a shelter to protect Field Service engineers from the elements.

Maintenance work on some customer sites require special equipment for working in deep snow.

All of the customer systems installed in and around mountain passes were installed to increase aviation safety. Therefore customers want to be certain that the systems are functioning properly a very high percentage of the time and there is urgency when these sites are down. With the snowcat, Vaisala can respond to outages or problems quickly in most weather conditions, while maintaining a safe working environment for Field Service engineers and not to mention, being cost efficient along the way.