Snowmaking 101 - Posted 12/07/2016
Snow making 101
Many times we are asked throughout the season questions about snowmaking. Snow Making involves many factors other than just the temperature. Our terrain is covered by snowmaking equipment, so as soon as we have cold temperatures, we can have snow all winter long, even if there is no natural snow at all. There are 6 key elements that need to be in place before we begin to make snow.
We must have cold temperatures to make snow. Many wonder how cold? We must have temperatures below 32 degrees. 32 degrees in the temperature required to turn water into snow crystals, at this temperature it is possible but affects the quality and quantity. Temperatures below 28 degrees are more ideal, but below 18 degrees would be great! Simply put, the colder the better!
What is humidity? Simply put it is the amount of moisture in the air. This is a very important factor in snow making. A general rule of thumb is a temperature value added to the humidity value must be less than 100. The temperature must still be around freezing. An example is a temp of 20 degrees and a humidity of 40 would be great to make snow. A temp of 30 with a humidity of 95 would not be ideal for snowmaking. As the temperature and humidity drops, the amount of snow made per hour goes up.
Compressed Air & Water
Compressors create the compressed air which is then pushed through air lines on the hill and in to the snow making system. There are also water lines throughout the property that run to the snow guns. The water comes from the local creek and it is transferred to our pump house which then pushes it as needed up certain water lines. An interesting fact is that a rain during the season heats the water temperature of the creek and affects the ability to make snow. In the springtime, when the snow melts, it runs back down the hill and returns to the creek.
There are 3 different types of snow guns located at Paoli Peaks. We have stationary fan guns located on towers. There are also mobile fan guns, which can be moved around the hill to help with snow making needs. The third type are portable air water guns which can be an added bonus in times of need, due to the easiness to move from place to place. What does a snow gun do? A snow gun acts as a large mixer for the water and air. We have approximately 110 snow guns. The snow guns vary in their specific function and location on the slopes, depending on how they create, make, and position the snow. Also machine made snow is more durable than natural snow.
So, how much snow can be made in an hour?
At ideal snowmaking conditions of 20 degrees and low humidity.
We pump 6500 gallons of water per minute
Each gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs
Multiply the two (gals per min X weight) you get 54,145 lbs of water being turned into snow per minute
Divide that number by 2000 (# of pounds in a ton) you get 27.07 tons of snow per minute
Multiply that by 60 (minutes per hour) that's 1,600 tons of snow per hour!
Snowmakers and Groomers
The final touch in the snowmaking process is our staff! Our snowmakers and groomers are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be on the mountain, taking advantage of ideal conditions the moment they arrive. They work all night to prepare the slopes for you to enjoy skiing, riding and tubing. Even when we don't get to make snow on a certain night, the grooming staff will be hard at work all night to get the slopes looking and feeling like there is a nice fresh coat of snow - look at that corduroy! It all starts with Mother Nature’s blessing us with ideal snowmaking conditions...so get ready, because she can't hold out too much longer!
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