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Snowmaking is the production of snow by forcing water and pressurized air through a "snow gun," also known as a "snow cannon." Snowmaking is mainly used at ski resorts to supplement natural snow. This allows ski resorts to improve the reliability of their snow cover and to extend their ski seasons from late autumn to early spring. Indoor ski slopes use snowmaking. They can generally do so year-round as they have climate-controlled environments.

The use of snowmaking machines is becoming increasingly common as changing weather patterns and the rising popularity of indoor ski resorts create a demand for snow beyond that which is provided by nature. Snowmaking machines have addressed the shortage in the supply of snow; however, there are significant environmental and cultural costs associated with the artificial production of snow.

According to the European Environment Agency, the length of snow seasons in the northern hemisphere has decreased by five days each decade since the 1970s, thus increasing the demand for the production of artificial snow. Some ski resorts use artificial snow to extend their ski seasons and augment natural snowfall; however there are some resorts that rely almost entirely upon artificial snow production.[1] Artificial snow was used extensively at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang to supplement natural snowfall and provide the best possible conditions for competition.[2]

The production of snow requires low temperatures. The threshold temperature for snowmaking increases as humidity decreases. Wet bulb temperature is used as a metric since it takes air temperature and relative humidity into account. The bulb temperature is always below the outside temperature. The damper the air, the less moisture it can absorb. The higher the atmospheric humidity, the colder it must be to turn the small water droplets into snow crystals.

Examples Celsius

  • 0 °C dry temperature and a humidity of 90 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of −0.6
  • 0 °C dry temperature and a humidity of 30 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of −4.3
  • +2 °C dry temperature and a humidity of 90 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of +1.5
  • +2 °C dry temperature and a humidity of 30 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of −2.8

Examples Fahrenheit

  • 32°F dry temperature and a humidity of 90 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of 31.43
  • 32°F dry temperature and a humidity of 30 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of 24.84

To start a snowmaking system a wet bulb temperature of -2,5°C/27,5°F is required. If the atmospheric humidity is very low, this level can be reached at temperatures slightly above 0°C/32°F but if the air humidity is high, colder temperatures are required. Temperatures around freezing point are referred to as borderline temperatures or limit temperatures.[3] If the wet bulb temperature drops, more snow can be produced faster and more efficient.

Snowmaking is a relatively expensive process in its energy use, thereby limiting its use.

History

In 1934, Warner Bros. technical director Louis Geib conjured a cold and wet blizzard on a sunny back lot in Burbank. His invention—the first known snowmaking machine—consisted of three rotating blades that shaved ice from a 400-pound block and a high-powered fan that blew the resulting particles into the air. A low-tech precursor to the water-crystallizing snow guns that is used each winter at about 90 percent of the country’s ski resorts, Geib’s machine was ideal for close-ups and, as the movie’s child actors learned, snowballs, though they disappeared quickly under the hot Hollywood lights. Geib’s innovation was also a hit off-screen, as the burgeoning ski industry—which sometimes trucked in snow for big events—began experimenting with the same technology. In the winter of 1934, the Toronto Ski Club re-purposed an ice planer from a local skating rink when Mother Nature did not provide cover for a scheduled competition.[4]

Art Hunt, Dave Richey, and Wayne Pierce invented the snow cannon in 1950,[5][6] but secured a patent sometime later.[7] In 1952, Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel became the first in the world to use artificial snow.[8] Snowmaking began to be used extensively in the early 1970s. Many ski resorts depend heavily upon snowmaking.

Snowmaking has achieved greater efficiency with increasing

The use of snowmaking machines is becoming increasingly common as changing weather patterns and the rising popularity of indoor ski resorts create a demand for snow beyond that which is provided by nature. Snowmaking machines have addressed the shortage in the supply of snow; however, there are significant environmental and cultural costs associated with the artificial production of snow.

According to the European Environment Agency, the length of snow seasons in the northern hemisphere has decreased by five days each decade since the 1970s, thus increasing the demand for the production of artificial snow. Some ski resorts use artificial snow to extend their ski seasons and augment natural snowfall; however there are some resorts that rely almost entirely upon artificial snow production.[1] Artificial snow was used extensively at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang to supplement natural snowfall and provide the best possible conditions for competition.[2]

The production of snow requires low temperatures. The threshold temperature for snowmaking increases as humidity decreases. Wet bulb temperature is used as a metric since it takes air temperature and relative humidity into account. The bulb temperature is always below the outside temperature. The damper the air, the less moisture it can absorb. The higher the atmospheric humidity, the colder it must be to turn the small water droplets into snow crystals.

Examples Celsius

Examples Fahrenheit

  • 32°F dry temperature and a humidity of 90 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of 31.43
  • 32°F dry temperature and a humidity of 30 % are equal to a wet bulb temperature of 24.84

To start a snowmaking system a wet bulb temperature of -2,5°C/27,5°F is required. If the atmospheric humidity is very low, this level can be reached at temperatures slightly above 0°C/32°F but if the air humidity

To start a snowmaking system a wet bulb temperature of -2,5°C/27,5°F is required. If the atmospheric humidity is very low, this level can be reached at temperatures slightly above 0°C/32°F but if the air humidity is high, colder temperatures are required. Temperatures around freezing point are referred to as borderline temperatures or limit temperatures.[3] If the wet bulb temperature drops, more snow can be produced faster and more efficient.

Snowmaking is a relatively expensive process in its energy use, thereby limiting its use.