How Cold Is Cold Enough To Make Snow? Ask a Snowmaker

Meet Mike Towers, our dedicated Manager of Slope Maintenance here at Blue Mountain. In charge of everything from grooming to snowmaking, terrain park setups, and overall slope maintenance, Mike is your go-to expert for all things related to the pristine condition and enjoyment of our slopes. Whether you’re curious about the intricacies of snowmaking or eager to understand the behind-the-scenes efforts in maintaining our trails, Mike is here to answer your burning (or should we say freezing?) questions!

Q: Which trails received new snow guns this year, and how many snow guns do you have on the mountain in total?

A: “Sunrise, Tranquility, Smart Alec, Starting Gate, and Rabbits Run all received new snow guns, and we have a total of 850 on the mountain.”

Q: Is there anything added to the water to make snow in warmer temperatures?

A: “To make snow, we add high pressure air, high pressure water, but we also add a product called Snomax which allows the water to freeze at warmer temperatures.”

Q: What temperatures can you make snow in?

A: “-2.5 degrees Celcius is kind of the magic number as to when can make snow.”

Q: How many hours of snowmaking does it take to open a trail?

A: “Typically, to open the trail it takes anywhere from 72 to 96 hours of snowmaking and grooming time to prepare the surface.”

Q: What factors dictate your opening day date?

A: “There’s a lot of factors that dictate the day we’re going to open. We rely on a natural product to fall from the sky, and sometimes Mother Nature plays hard ball. If it doesn’t snow, we have to make snow and we can only capitalize on the opportunities that we do.”

Q: What happens if it rains after you’ve made snow?

A: “Not much really happens to the snow, it just becomes a little bit wetter and we will lose some. But because man-made snow is more dense, it doesn’t melt as easily as natural snow.”

Q: What are the advantages to using stick vs. fan snow guns?

A: “It really comes down to how much electricity you have available around your resort. Fan guns require 400 plus volts to run, where stick guns just run off of air and water.”

Q: Does man-made snow make the hill icier?

A: “The snow from the snow guns is more of an ice pellet but when it comes out, it’s denser so it doesn’t melt as quickly. For the terrain park it allows us to build features easier.”

Q: How do you know where to make snow?

A: “We aim to have a minimum snow coverage on all our runs of about 1 meter. We use GPS data from the snow caps to determine how much snow we have in certain areas and we cross reference that and make snow where we don’t have as much as we want.”

Q: How is climate change affecting snowmaking?

A: “We now need to be more prepared to take advantage of the small windows and opportunities that we have due to climate change. With the investment that we made, we increased the density in our snow guns. Automation and gun placement across the resort allows us to start quicker and run longer to capitalize on all the windows that we have.”

Published by Katie Powell

Hey! I'm Katie, a 22-year-old post-grad taking on a new adventure as Blue Mountains' Marketing Wintern. When I'm not carving up the slopes or collaborating with the team, you can find me spending time with friends and family, staying active, and getting outside!

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