Winter Weather Handbook: Making Snow

Winter Weather Handbook

EYEWITNESS WEATHER (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Some winters in Pennsylvania accumulate lots of snow, while others not so much. 

We all know that water freezes at 32 degrees, but when it comes to making snow, ski resorts like Jack Frost, they prefer to start at 28 degrees. This helps them to produce more snow.  

But other factors like humidity also have an important role in snow production. 

The lower the temperature and the lower the humidity, the more water you can feed to the gun and the more water, the more snow. 

“With a low relative humidity, it can create a thicker snow base. And when conditions are right, you can start up the snow guns. “ said Mark Daubert, General Manager Jack Frost

“There’s a nozzle that uh feeds air and water and all the other nozzles are just water. But it’s the air and water mixture together that nucleates the water and makes it able to freeze,” said Gary Fuller, snow making Manager at Montage Mountain.

These snow guns weigh around 900 pounds and they throw snow up to 40 feet in the air before it falls and starts accumulating on the ground. 

“One of our fan guns will, it’ll make an acre foot of snow in about 12 hours,” said Fuller.

In order to maximize snow production, you need the perfect weather conditions. 

“You know, sometimes we can run for hours and not put down a whole lot, but when you get those good temperatures, you could run for a couple hours and put down a few feet,” added Fuller.

The general manager at Jack says the we can only ski on the first couple inches, but they try to keep the base a little taller.

“24 to 36 inches, we try to keep, you know as an average. There are some places where it’s six feet. In the terrain park, it could be 15, 20 feet depending on what snow features we build, but for the most part 2-3 feet,” Daubert noted.

Through the course of the winter at Jack Frost, they pump almost 100 million gallons of water into the snow guns, but 90 percent of that water goes back to the creek they pumped it from waiting for the entire process to begin again in the next ski season. 

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