Snowmaking & Grooming
Since the birth of snowmaking in the forties, technology has developed to a point where it has become feasible to produce quality snow when the temperatures drop down into the mid-twenties. Snow guns make snow by mixing water with air, breaking the water into small particles; cooling the water by causing them to move through cold air and then forming a nucleus, a tiny snow crystal.
Depending on the temperature and humidity, more water is added. The water is sprayed so finely that it clings to the snow crystal and forms a snowflake. At this point, an electric fan within the gun blows the mass of snowflakes onto the slopes. It is interesting to note that water can be cooled well below 32 degrees and still not freeze unless it is nucleated, thus the need for the tiny snow crystal to act as a nuclei.
Snowmaking becomes more productive as the humidity and temperature drop. Cold dry air is far better than cold moist air. As temperature and humidity rise, the amount of water needs to be decreased in order to create quality snow. The lower the humidity, the more snow a system can produce at a given temperature.
Why? Because evaporation furnishes a significant part of the cooling of water. So, the lower the humidity, the greater the evaporation, the quicker the cooling, the more snow you can make. Going from 85% humidity to 40% humidity can double the volume of snow you can make. Can we make lots of snow at 25 degrees? NO. We can make five times as much snow at 15 degrees than we can at 25 degrees.
Examples of snowmaking start points:
If temperature is 28 degrees – Humidity must be 60% lower.
If temperature is 26 degrees – Humidity must be 80% lower.
We are often asked how much snow you can make in one night. As you have learned, many factors are involved including wind directions and speed. Snowmaking is an art and science, there is no easy answer to the question “How much snow can you make”. If Mother Nature can give us temps in the mid teens, we can operate at full capacity. At full capacity we have pump and gun capacity to utilize 100 gallons of water per minute per acre throughout the area. This translates into 6” of snow over the entire area in a 24 hour period. Three days of this and we have an excellent 18” base on all trails.
Got Snow? Yes we do.
Here are some interesting facts about Snowstar’s Snowmaking System:
- System capacity = 2600 GP minute
- Snow guns = 33
- Typical snowmaking hours per year = 500
- Pumping horsepower = 2-200 horsepower pumps and 2-100 horsepower pumps
- Underground network – over 8000’ of electric wire and water pipe
- Smoothing out bumps and moguls
- Maintaining snow depth in high traffic areas
- Reshaping and rebuilding trails
- Removing excess snow from around lift stations
- Spreading man-made Snowstar Corporation Packing fresh Snowstar Corporation
- Making interesting and challenging terrain features
PLEASE NOTE: Terrain features may be encountered throughout the area. Such features may be moved and/or modified on a daily basis.
Understanding the Snow Report
The NSAA (National Ski Areas Association) endorsed a system eliminating subjective ratings and all ski reports to carry the depth and type of base and surface conditions only. Actual conditions are given and the skier can make his or her own interpretation. Skiing conditions can change with weather and skier use. Ski carefully and in control at all times. Skiers and snowboarders must be responsible and be aware of the risky elements of the sport.
Interpreting a Report
It is not necessary to be an expert in order to interpret a snow report, but you should be aware of the terminology and how to apply it. A ten-inch base can be as good as a twenty-four or forty-eight inch base if the temperature is well below freezing and has been for a day or so. However, if the temperature is on a rising trend, into the upper forty range or higher, and the base is less than eight to ten inches, skiing conditions can deteriorate accordingly. Therefore, the snow report should be analyzed with the temperatures, past, present, and future, in mind as well as the depth of base and surface conditions.
Overnight temperatures in the low twenties will refreeze particles producing loose granular “snow”. A report that contains the wording “icy spot” should NOT be regarded as a clear indication that skiing is likely to be poor. Some of the best ski days may be accompanied by icy spots where skiers have repeatedly turned and scraped their skis across a particular spot on the slope causing the surface to ice-up.