Thursday, November 7, 2013


Snow lovers,

Like our friends in the ski business, Wintergreen is busy getting ready for another great Winter. The season pass office is busy selling, HR is busy hiring, Ski Maintenance is finishing grooming tractor service and preparing lifts and the snowmakers are going full force on one last improvement project.... Opening is only a month away, this is an action packed time for all of us.

The number one question asked this time of year - When are you guys gonna start making snow???

The easy answer is when the weather cooperates. The better answer is a bit more complicated....

This series of updates will provide a more detailed explanation and highlight snowmaking improvements that make Wintergreen's SNOWPOWER so special. Over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for updates that provide an explanation of the different pieces in this snowmaking puzzle...

The first piece:


Snowmaking is an expensive process. The cost to run our system is approximately $800 per hour in electricity charges alone. Just electricity. November is a transition month where warm and cold air systems are battling it out to see who wins. This time of year, the weather can fluctuate wildly here at Wintergreen. A forecast issued today shows highs in the 60's on Sunday followed by the chance of snow on Wednesday. November can be crazy up and down...

Because temps in November fluctuate so wildly, making snow early can prove to be a HUGE waste of money and resources. Example - 3 cold nights with daytime highs in the low 40's. We run 10 hrs per night over 3 days. 30 run hours = $24,000 in electrical expense. The cold shot is followed by normal early November warmth (50's during the day and high 30's at night) that lasts 5-6 days. At the end of the cold period we have produced a couple inches of beautiful new snow. By the middle of the normal warm period, we have no snow left over. $24,000 in electricity expense + labor + equipment wear and tear +++. When it all melts away, one might argue it was not a good idea.....A waste of money and our natural resources.

In the end, more consistent cold temperatures is the key decided when to start making snow. With this in mind, we most often wait until late November or the first of December to make snow.  Weather forecasters are predicting a colder than normal Winter with the transition to Winter coming late in the Month.  All good news for us, waiting to make snow until late November or even early December can still provide for an incredible season.

Look for another update early next week.  Piece two will be about TECHNOLOGY!