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All ski areas have lifts, rentals, retail and food and beverage but whether the area has 187 acres or 3000 acres SNOW is the largest component of its success. Snow that is in the right places at the right time and plenty of it. To thrive, a ski area must develop an understanding, study analyze and gamble with Mother Nature; successfully. Snowmaking helps eliminate the element of chance. Man made snow allows a ski area an earlier start to a longer season, and although it is not a guarantee, it provides the best chance for continuous operation. In this day in age it is the only sure way to provide for what we all love doing which is strapping skis and boards to our feet and sliding down hill.
What is Snowmaking?
Snowmaking is the process of creating snow by dispersing water and air-under-pressure into freezing ambient air. This produces a snowflake like structure similar to natural snow. By regulating the water content of man made snow, it can be made into light powder or a wet base snow which helps to withstand higher temperature, high skier volume, and
constant grooming before melting. Snowmaking is a science that has evolved over the years through determination, research, engineering, and economics.
What we need to make it happen:
- High Pressure air and water provided by an elaborate network of pumps, compressors, valves and pipe.
- A maximum Wet Bulb Temperature of 25 degrees; the lower the temperature, the better. Wet Bulb Temperature is the temperature an air parcel would have if cooled adiabatically (no heat transfer has taken place) to saturation at constant pressure by evaporation of water into it, all heat being supplied by the parcel.
- A low Humidity of 50% or lower is ideal Humidity is the amount of water vapor in a sample of air compared to the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at a specific temperature.
32 Degrees on your deck thermometer does not mean we can make snow at the mountain.
Starting to look more like a science? These factors, as well as economic, logistic, planning and timing must be balanced against each other to get the white stuff on the ground.
This is only the beginning and only the basic principle is simple. There are other factors that require consideration before the guns go on such as what areas should be covered, first, second, third? What are the climate conditions now? What will those conditions be tomorrow? What's the trail contour, elevation, width, exposure, and solar loss factors? What is the projected skier volume to be expected on a particular trail? All this is taken into consideration on every trail, every year while trying to figure out what Mother Nature is going to allow us to do.
Only when the stars align, Mother Nature cooperates and all the equipment is running flawlessly can we really get down to business. Most snowmakers have a love hate relationship with snowmaking. A snowmaker works long, hard, cold, wet hours for days on end. They suffer together, get sick together, and sacrifice a lot together. And when you have been making snow as long as some of these guys have, when the guns are running, you get the satisfaction of providing the best conditions
possible which make for the best experience imaginable.
Everyone's goal at Mountain Creek is to provide the best snow surface on the East Coast and we love doing it. ENJOY!
Best Snowmaking in the East - 2011 SnowEast Magazine Reader's Poll