When it began snowing final week at a number of Colorado ski resorts, there have been few clouds within the sky and no pure precipitation in sight. The forecast was for solar. 

However the climate was excellent — for snowmaking. 

Making snow is a difficult and important enterprise for ski resorts. 

Within the west, resorts use snowmaking as an insurance coverage coverage to assist them meet their opening date targets. Within the east, snow is made all through the season to assist mitigate the vagaries of local weather and climate. 

snowmaking machine or snow gun
Snow gun or cannon in motion

Good Situations

Snowmaking is an power and water intensive operation, so resorts aren’t going to fireside up their snow weapons till the situations are optimum and they’re assured that the snow they blow will final. 

Optimum situations name for a most temperature of 28 levels wet-bulb Fahrenheit, or -2 levels wet-bulb celsius, with a most well-liked temperature within the vary of 15 to 18 levels wet-bulb Fahrenheit or -9 to -7 levels wet-bulb celsius.

“That is the temperature at which our snow weapons run at 100% effectivity,” Scott Enos, snowmaking supervisor at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort shared in a 2017 dialog. 

“It’s chilly sufficient that tools runs correctly and never so chilly that the tools freezes up.”  

And lest you be tempted to google “what the heck is wet-bulb temperature,” let me share. 

Moist-bulb temperature is the temperature of air at 100% relative humidity. To get a studying, all you want is an out of doors thermometer wrapped in a chunk of moist muslin with air passing over it.

Tips on how to Make Snow

As soon as the temperature is correct, it’s time to fireside up the snowmaking infrastructure: hydrants, hoses, pipes, and snow weapons. 

Snow weapons are available two varieties: fan weapons and air/water weapons. Fan weapons have probably the most protection, throwing snow as much as 250 ft away. They’re usually used for laying down early season base. 

Air/water weapons are extra focused. These are the snow weapons you may even see creating deep piles of snow in anticipation of a future terrain park. 

A Phrase About Water

Whereas air and equipment get the job finished, water is the important thing ingredient. And we’re speaking a number of water, with 200,000 gallons of water wanted to cowl only one acre of land, one foot deep, in machine made snow. 

Usually, resorts with in depth snowmaking will use tens of millions of gallons of water in 24 hours, relying upon what number of weapons are blowing.  

Which Resort Will Be the First To Open?

For the primary time since 2001, the opening day derby in Colorado is a three-way warmth, together with perennial rivals Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, with the addition of Keystone Resort

Whereas one in every of these three high-altitude ski gamers will doubtless be the primary to open (fingers crossed for October), Wolf Creek in southwestern Colorado is a contender if the snow gods ship.

Nonetheless, being the primary in Colorado doesn’t assure being “first within the nation.” Maine’s Sunday River examined their snowmaking tools over the October fifth weekend, with a aim of opening by Halloween. Their weapons will fireplace up as quickly as temperatures persistently attain 25-30 levels Fahrenheit in a single day. 

“With pure snow and elevated capability in our snowmaking system, we had been in a position to open for snowboarding and driving on October 19 final season,” says Steve Boulanger, Vice President of Mountain Operations for Sunday River. “Relaxation assured, Sunday River’s snowmaking crew is on the prepared to supply an amazing snow floor as quickly as attainable.”

To which, all of us say — irrespective of the place we reside — convey it.