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How do ski resorts make all that perfect snow?

By Jodi Saeland | Posted - Jan 13th, 2013 @ 11:03pm


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SNOWBIRD — Snowmaking is done at many resorts in Utah and is a very important part of the resort's day-to-day operations. Especially in years where Mother Nature is not as kind, it helps the ski resorts get a jump start for their season.

That's where the snow machines come in. When a good base of snow is needed, or some extra snow, machines pump out snow at roughly 25 gallons per minute.

At Snowbird, the water comes from old mining claims.

"The mines are the holding tank," said Assistant Director for Maintenance Rusty Johnson. "They put a bulkhead in and flooded all the mines."

That water is pushed from the mines, through a pumphouse and to the snowguns. But snow can't be made if the temperature isn't just right,

"Take the call to start making snow, we want to get at least 28 degrees and dropping," Johnson said.

Balancing the amount of water and the temperature is key. The more water that is released, the heavier the snow. It is controlled by a bands of rings: One ring of valves releases 25 gallons every minute while up to 3 rings of valves releases 150 gallons a minute.

The snowguns can be turned on via an app on Rustys phone if need be, but they still need to be monitored manually for direction, strength of wind and pressure. The snowmakers travel around the mountain checking the guns.

And every night after the lifts shut down, the snowcats come in to put the final touches on the mountain, grooming the slopes and making that awesome corduroy pattern skiers love so much.

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