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Snowmaking - The joys and the benefits


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It was a long time coming, Mont Saint-Sauveur, Killington and Sunday River are now open for skiing in the East, as of Monday, November 3rd.

The key was the cold(er) weather front that has finally moved in, creating ideal conditions for snow making to truly begin. Even if the cold wave is only being experienced in brief periods mainly overnight, it has proven to one again be enough to jump start the snow.

Many other ski resorts are filling their Facebook and Twitter pages with pictures of their ongoing efforts and recent snowfalls to further excite passionate skiers and riders.

In Quebec, the legendary Mont Saint-Sauveur, who once again maintain their First to Open title, held for many years, made use of an ultra performing snow making system, to pull off the incredible feat.

The key to snowmaking is not only the temperature, of which -2'c and below is generally required, but also humidity and wet bulb temperature. Here's a little primer on the essentials.

Man-made snow is real snow. There is nothing artificial about it, other than the technology and machines that allow it to happen. It is made by snow guns spraying atomized water particles under high pressure into the cold dry atmosphere, which freeze into snow particles before they hit the ground. The colder and drier the air, the more water can be put through the gun. No additive or chemical is put in the water.  The only difference between natural and man-made snow is the distance it falls to the ground. Man made snow is created much closer to the ground and therefore doesn't have as much time to crystalize and expand into the big flakes you see in a real snowstorm. It is important to note that after a couple days, natural snow and man-made snow become indistinguishable, due to the passing of skiers, grooming and the freeze and thaw cycle.

One large benefit of man-made snow is that it is very dense, with a water content of about 35%. Compare this to natural snow which is only around 5-15% water. This is very helpful at the beginning and end of the season, as it takes longer to melt and is the secret to having the longest ski seasons possible.

With this info in hand, you can see that a lot of science goes into the creation of snow. In the next couple days and weeks, you will be able to benefit from the efforts of countless people, giving you the opportunity to ski, before mother nature would have truly allowed you otherwise.

Stay tuned, the ski industry is about to wake up. Get your skis and snowboards ready, the chairlifts will be spinning very shortly at a ski resort near you!

Photo Credit : Mont Saint-Sauveur

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