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How Snowmaking Works (skiroundtop.com)
56 points by zo1 on Nov 16, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments

I grew up snowboarding Roundtop and it's sister Ski Liberty without having truly experienced real powder. As a kid, it was easy to believe that snow-making was just a part of all ski resorts, and it didn't occur to me that bigger mountains don't need them. Then I went out to Lake Tahoe, and it was nothing short of magical. The night I arrived, the skies blanketed the mountains with two feet of fresh powder. Cruising through the trees that next morning in the real snow is something I'll never forget.

Still, there was something about riding a slow chairlift up my small, local mountains with the freezing wind whipping your numb face, and then getting blasted with icy man-made snow as your chair glides through the path of a snowblower.

"Cruising through the trees that next morning in the real snow is something I'll never forget"

Yes! The first true powder run you make in your life after skiing/boarding for 20+ years on east-coast hardpack is a nearly religious experience.

Living in CO, I can tell you that snow making is used here quite frequently. It just doesn't snow with the type of frequency you'd think and most of our largest storms happen in the Spring, when the resorts are winding down.

Take last year (2015) for example, where our Spring was much wetter than usual,


After working many years in various ski resorts, I'm still convinced there's billions to be made if someone can crack "man made powder"

This article does a good job of explaining the difference between natural snowflakes and man-made "ice flakes" (natural stuff is mostly air), and I've always wondered why someone hasn't figured out how to make powder on a large scale.

A resort that can guarantee 5+ inches of powder every day is a license to print money.

I grew up skiing roundtop's sister resort, ski Liberty. Their resorts are really amazing at snowmaking, and all of their facilities for snowmaking are state of the art. Perhaps even crazier is that they can afford it, but by being the closest resort to DC, they'll gather insanely long lift lines on a decent winter weekend.

Edit: I wanted to add that the results of their snowmaking, after it's been groomed, is actually pretty enjoyable and a lot higher quality then any fake snow you'll find in the west. Last winter when I was suffering from no snow in the PNW, I was seriously jealous of the mid-atlantic's snowmaking abilities.

My hometown in Norway this year took this even further. When spring came, they gathered as much snow they could in a big pile and covered it with white plastic. Then redistributed it out over the slopes this fall. Made it possible to start making snow earlier (making snow on hot ground makes it instantly melt).

Wow, that's the first I've heard of it. What Ski resort, if you don't mind me asking?

Geilo, specifically, but many others in Norway have tried this year as well.

Ah, east coast skiing: Roundtop's local(ish) to me, but I don't think I've skied there. Snowmaking truly is an incredible undertaking (and the epitome of first world problem), but the product doesn't compare to the real thing.

native New Englander living in the mid-atlantic now. I remember the sound of snow guns all throughout the night from the resort on the other side of our mountain. Now i'm homesick

The fact that the cooled compressed air expands upon exiting the machine is also very important -- this, along with impurities in the water, allows nucleation to happen immediately as the water exits the nozzles. More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowmaking

This article doesn't mention one of the most interesting aspects of snowmaking - the addition of bacteria to the water to increase the productivity.http://web.mst.edu/~microbio/BIO221_2010/P_syringae.html

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