Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Natural Snow a Welcome Sight

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Natural Snow a Welcome Sight

Article excerpt

A combination of single-digit temperatures, around the clock snowmaking and more than a foot of natural snow has generated the best ski, snowboard, snow-tubing and snowshoeing conditions at local and regional resorts.

And the sled- and disc-riding should be good at state parks, especially in the snow-blessed Laurel Highlands.

Snowmakers at Blue Knob, Hidden Valley, Mount Pleasant at Edinboro, Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa, Peek'n Peak, Seven Springs and Wisp succeeded in getting their respective resorts through the unseasonably warm and wet holiday season.

And they will be at it again later next week when this weekend's spring-like temperatures fall below freezing.

Meanwhile, Seven Springs mountain managers Kirk Russel and Bill Cavalcante can take a short break and watch guests enjoy their work and that of their employees.

In a joint "How to Make Snow" report for the resort's website (www.7springs.com), they explained that snowmaking "is a very complex and delicate procedure that depends on a lot of variables."

They said the "contours of the terrain, natural snowfall, sun exposure, air and ground temperature, humidity and wind variations are just some of the factors that must be considered.

"There are three vital ingredients in snowmaking -- water, compressed air and proper outside temperature. Snowmaking can begin at 28 degrees if the humidity is low, but the quantity of snow produced in those conditions is minimal." The colder it gets, the better the snow.

They said their team uses a few snowmaking towers to test the conditions. If the winds are favorable -- not blowing the snow into the trees or onto nearby buildings-- the system is opened for business. If the winds don't cooperate, portable equipment is used.

The water for snowmaking is collected from ponds all over the resort and pumped up to its Lake Tahoe where it is chilled to just above freezing, thanks to aerators and the SolarBee, a table-sized solar-powered circulation system that keeps the water moving and at a steady temperature. …

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