Tuesday, November 19, 2013


In the ski biz, snow is money and no snow is no money.  For snow lovers, snow is fun and no snow is NO FUN!

To protect what we love to do, investing in and maintaining our snowmaking system is extremely important. While we have always promoted our snowmaking capabilities, last years $6 million dollar investment in snowguns, water storage, increased pumping, pipeline and water cooling took our great system to a whole new level.

Like everything else in our lives, technological advancements change the way we live and work.  Snowmaking advancements can provide huge increases in snowmaking efficiency and snow production. Keeping up with these advancements is what sets Wintergreen apart from our competition. As a result, we have one of the best snowmaking systems in North America! 

Automation -

What is automation?  Using technology to keep track of and continually adjust snowgun output automatically.  Why is this important?  QUALITY AND PRODUCTION!  As weather conditions change (temp and humidity), so does the quality and quantity of snow being produced.  If the temp drops and a gun is not adjusted, the snow quality is too dry and the production is diminished.  If the temp goes up and a gun is not adjusted, the snow turns into wet snow or rain and the surface quality suffers dramatically. 

Old school snowmaking requires an army of snowmakers checking the quality of the snow that each gun is producing.  This process is SLOW and can produce a wide variety of surface snow conditions.  Computer Automation monitors and adjusts the snow production of every gun constantly.  The result = the best quality snow and a lot more of it!

Guns -



Not every gun is created equal...some guns are much better than others.  Wintergreen continues to invest heavily in our snowgun arsenal, recognizing the need to have a blend of gun types.  Why?  Because individual gun performance can change dramatically depending on the operating scenario.  Example - In most cases, guns designed to operate well at marginal snowmaking conditions, perform less well when it is extremely cold.  Guns that produce enormous amounts of snow when it is extremely cold, often make only NOISE when snowmaking temperatures warm up.  The variability of Wintergreen's weather requires a combination of marginal and cold weather snowmaking guns, with more emphasis on marginal snowmaking performance.

Water Storage -

Having a good supply of water is critical.  In addition to 100 million gallons located at the foot of our mountain, Wintergreen maintains an additional five million up at the ski area.  Five million gallons of on mountain storage allows us to double our snowmaking production during overnight hours and puts an additional 5 million gallons or more on the hill during extended cold periods.  More water = more snow.

Water Cooling -


Trying to make snow with warm water is more difficult and more expensive than in a cold water scenario.  Old Timers say for every degree you reduce the supply water temp, you gain an increase in production by as much as 10%.  The importance water temp plays in the process is huge.  Example - Wintergreen often starts the snowmaking season with a supply water temp of 55 degrees or more.  December snow production can be painfully slow because warm water reduces snow production dramatically.  Water cooling changes the game, allowing big increases in early season snowmaking production.

Wintergreen's water cooling plant is capable of cooling more than 3,000 gallons of water per minute, circulating water in our storage tank through a chiller "loop".  Whenever the outside air temperatures is seven degrees colder than the stored water temp, the system comes on and begins cooling our tank.  All of this is done automatically and results in an increase in snow produced.  Example - In early November, the tank water temp was 58 degrees, the current temp is 44 degrees and falling....  Dropping our supply water temperature to 44 degrees (14 degrees less) increases snow production by an enormous amount.  Remember - one degree drop in water supply temp produces an increase in snow by 10%...  Water cooling is a game changer in snow production, especially early season!

Water Pumping -

WATER - snow guns need lots of it.  The colder the outside temperature is, the more water each gun needs.  The more water you can pump, the more snow you can make.  Wintergreen discharges 8,000 gallons per minute into our snowmaking system at a discharge pressure of approximately 600 PSI.      

Conclusion -

 It really is all about the snow, and LOTS OF IT!