Snowmakers Prep for the Season

It won’t be long before you begin to hear the signature whoosh of the snow guns blowing at Blue Mountain Resort. Like most diehard skiers and snowboarders, this time of year has turned us into what we like to call “weather watchers.”

The Weather Network has found a permanent home in our browsers and we obsessively hit refresh to see if the weekly forecast is going to bless us with optimal snowmaking conditions. As you can imagine, our obsession hits a fever pitch as soon as we see snow squalls in the forecast and the animated gifs that track snow cloud movements across our region have been burned into the backs of our eyes. At this rate, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to see a collection of us performing a ritualized dance to the snow god Ullr in exchange for a little cooperation from Mother Nature.

Luckily for us, the long term forecast seems promising with multiple snow-days and minus temperatures predicted. Of course, we like to help Mother Nature along and our snowmakers have been preparing the Resort for opening day since early November. Their diligence has paid off, too. Just last week, the word out of our snowmaking department was that as soon as optimal temperatures arrive, they’ll be ready to turn the guns on.

What, exactly, are optimal temperatures then? We’ve built flexibility into our snowmaking infrastructure with a range of high and low temperature guns. On the mild side, we can blow snow at temperatures of -2C or colder. However, while -2C represents the possibility of snowmaking, it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges, chief of which is making sure that we’re actually blowing snow and not rain. Also, before we even begin to think about turning on the snow guns, it needs to be -2C for a period of at least 48 hours. Without those conditions, the ground will not be frozen and snow that hits it won’t stick around for long. The sweet spot, temperature-wise, is between -7C and -12C. With some consistent temperatures in the forecast, magic can happen in a very short period of time. Indulge us as we do a little math. Blue’s snowmaking system can pump 14,000 gallons of water per minute. When 160,500 gallons of water gets through our system, the snowmaking equivalent is one foot acre of snow every 12 minutes. With a total skiable acreage of 364, we can produce the equivalent in snow coverage in approximately three days when the guns run at maximum capacity. Pretty neat, huh?

The reality is that fall lines and various other terrain undulations take a lot more snow to fill in for adequate, skiable coverage. With ideal conditions, we can cover about 50% of the trails in less than five days and be open across the mountain in 8-10 days with a base of at least 12-24 inches on most trails.

If you’re still with me through all that math, then you’ve probably already concluded that once we get those temperatures, opening day won’t be too far away. Last year, we were able to get the Silver Bullet chair turning with access to three runs on November 30th. This year, we’d like to beat that! You can be confident that we’re doing everything we can to get ready for the winter season. And hey, if you’d like to help us out, maybe a ritual dance or two to Ullr is in your future? You never know what will work to charm Mother Nature into giving Blue’s snowmakers their optimal forecast…

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