Snowmaking: What You Need To Know

At Hockley Valley Resort, this time of year brings thoughts of cold weather and winter on the hill! We’re getting ready for another great ski season and a large part of that season for us involves snowmaking. Since Mother Nature’s the one holding the real power, we do our best to plan, pre-empt and adjust accordingly throughout the entire winter season. What’s involved in our snowmaking process? Mark Hunter, our Ski Operations Manager has put together a list of things you need to know about snowmaking:

– Even if temperatures get cold enough, we cannot start making snow until November 15, based on our water usage permit

– We can start making snow once the temperature is consistently -3° or colder, but our optimal temp is -10° ( 475 gallons of water/minute )

– Once the weather turns, our snowmaking team does not take a break on snowmaking until we have a 3’ base, often we’re making snow for 24 hours at a time with a rotating team

– Our snowmaking team consists of 6 staff, 9 fan guns, 40 water sticks, 2 air/water tower guns, and two grooming machines to spread the snow out perfectly.

– We use 15 million gallons of water and add a product called SnowMax. (This is the product we use in our snow guns to make the water molecule smaller and for it to freeze faster.)

– Once we’ve made the piles of snow, we then spread them out all over the hills and add snow where needed with the snow guns. We can typically cover about 1 run per day, on average, though Easy Rider takes much longer because it’s twice as long.

We’re often asked how we determine the order of the hills, in terms of snowmaking and getting them open… According to Mark, we start with Easy Rider and Teddy Bear on both ends and then we start filling in the middle with Face, and then we build the terrain park and finish the rest of the runs one by one.

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