How Resorts Make Snow, They Depend On More Than Just Cool Temperatures


Virginia and West Virginia are home to many Ski Resorts which depend on snow in the winter.

But when they have to make snow, it's not just about having cold temperatures.

Nearby Snowshoe in the mountains of West Virgina averages 180" of snowfall a year!

Resorts in the Valley don't see anything near that.
Homestead Resort: 50" of snow a year.
Massanutten Resort: 35" of snow a year.
Wintergreen Mountain: 34" of snow a year.
Bryce Resort: 30" of snow a year.

So when mother nature doesn't provide enough natural snow, the resorts can make their own, if they have the right conditions.

But just because the air temperature may be near freezing, it doesn't necessarily mean it's good snow making weather.

Snow-makers like Jason Seal are constantly checking the conditions from the base to the top of the mountain. The weather can vary greatly.

Seal, the snow-making foreman, says, "We're looking at humidity, and the regular outside temperature. The two of them combined can make something called wet bulb.

It's that wet bulb temperature that can determine your ability to make snow.

Seal says as a snow-maker, they are looking for a greater difference between the actual temperature and the dew point.

Many people think that because temperatures get colder at night, that's a better time to make snow. That's not necessarily true because at night the humidity rises. The cooler and drier, the better.

Seal says, "The cooler and drier the air is, the lower the humidity it is, and it lowers the wet bulb temperature.

Sometimes a tiny change in the temperature can make all the difference.

"A half of a degree of temperature can either make or break this." Other factors that go into snow making include the water pressure, and the water temperature. If the temperature gets too cold though, then the equipment starts to freeze.

When everything comes together, Seal says, "It's awesome, you just start thinking how big of a pile you are going to make that night."

It's a cold job but Seal say's it's worth it.

"All the people out smiling having fun, it's pretty neat to think that you've helped accomplish that somewhat."


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