In A New Twist On An Old Tactic, Ski Resorts Are Making Snow To Fight Fires
As summer turns to fall, California ski areas have begun using their snowmaking machines as supersized sprinklers to help fight forest fires. Their theory is that if the ski areas can keep key infrastructure wet, the resorts can survive the worst of the fires.
California is not the first place to use this strategy. During fires in Australia two years ago, snowmaking machines were used to protect historic infrastructure. While this specific use is new, since its inception in 1950, snowmaking has been entangled in corporate attempts to adapt to, and prosper in, precarious climates.
In the first five years after World War II, the ski industry was expanding rapidly in the U.S. With widespread coverage of the heroics of the 10th Mountain Division during the war and a booming middle class, skiing was growing in popularity. But it was a precarious industry dependent on the whims of the weather and comparatively poor forecasts.