As temperatures fall with the shorter days of fall, ski resorts in Colorado keep an eye on the temperature and the amount of moisture in the air so that the significant investments in snow-making equipment can be turned on to prep for the start of ski season.
With dry air and temperatures in the 20s, Arapahoe Basin fired up the guns for the first time early Sunday morning. In the annual race to be the first ski area to open in the Centennial State, A-Basin focuses efforts on the High Noon run so that skiers can take the Black Mountain Express high-speed quad lift to the Black Mountain Lodge and ski down to the area’s base.
Snow making requires several ingredients:
– Cold temperatures
– Dry Air
– Compressed Air
– Snow Guns
– Computer Controls (optional, but becoming more common)
The cold air temperature is likely the most obvious requirement for making snow in addition to having water. Without it, liquid water doesn’t turn into ice crystals. Some of the other ingredients required may not be so obvious though.
Snow making machines break water into very small particles so that the water can quickly be cooled as it is thrown from the snow gun. The colder and drier the air, in short, the better the snow making conditions.
Machine-made snow is often just frozen on the very outside. Resorts will typically leave the snow in piles to finish freezing, a process referred to as curing. After fully freezing, the snow will then be spread out on runs using snow cats.