Over at Sulako's Blog I started to comment on a post last year, but my comment got too long, so I decided to haul it back here to my own soapbox. Sulako was discussing an accident report in which an airplane he had once flown was written off. It's a weird feeling every time that happens: learning that the airplane that once carried you safely will never fly again. It's a little bit like hearing that an actor or author whom you didn't know personally, but whose work you admired, has died. If you live in a small community where you know who owns your old car, I guess you might find out if it was wrecked, but with airplanes accident reports are public and the identifiers don't usually change, so you can recognize your old ride at once.
In the post Sulako asks what you would have done if you had an hours-old report that the runway was snow covered, but snow removal was in progress. The accident crew proceeded to the aerodrome and lost control on landing, in unexpectedly deep snow.
I would have done the same. Unless weather forecasts indicated that it was still snowing at YYW and that I could expect a new accumulation by nightfall, the information the crew received made it sound as though the runway would be clear for their arrival. I would have thought that "in progress" meant that the crew was out there now ploughing, or at least starting up the plough, not that they were seriously thinking about maybe doing it tomorrow. If something happened to the plough while it was working, I would expect an urgent NOTAM to be issued, and passed to me as I updated my weather en route.
I feel for that crew. Beginning to flare over an all white surface, you really can't tell if it's "an unexpected amount of snow," a thin layer of ice, or some kind of twilight zone nothingness that will devour your airplane entirely. And as you touch down you can't really see the runway at all, just strive to keep straight from other cues. You know it should be under your wheels is all.
I've usually found airports tended better than I would expect, for example the time I called an operator to find out what the CFS called "limited winter maintenance" meant at his aerodrome. He said, "that means I don't clear the runway between midnight and five a.m. unless there's a medevac." I had been expecting something like the runway not being cleared to the full width or length, not cleared until snow was no longer forecast or only cleared in daylight. I've encountered some of those.
Ironically, the first time I learned of an airplane from my logbook being written off, it was also a landing accident in deep snow. In this case the airport in question was listed as "no winter maintenance," and the tendency of the rental pilots to obey laws was proven to be low, as their aircraft was also loaded over gross with bales of marijuana. Apparently while the accident pilot was awaiting trial, he had the temerity to go back to the same company and ask to rent another airplane!