The first dusting of snow has graced the Colorado High Country, and even the first turns
of the season have already taken place in Breckenridge. But this season’s opening act kicks off in earnest this week – snowmaking!
fired up their system early Tuesday morning, coating a few runs at the top of the mountain with a dusting of white. Late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, temperatures and humidity levels are forecasted
to drop, and Loveland
, Arapahoe Basin
and Copper are all expected to see some solid snowmaking production windows.
UPDATE: Loveland kicked off the snowmaking season on Thursday, Oct. 4.
"Well, the forecast starts looking good Wednesday night," Arapahoe Basin COO and Vice President Al Henceroth wrote on his blog
Tuesday. "A few degrees one way or another can be the difference between marginal and great snowmaking. My money is on a few really good nights this week."
The National Weather Service is calling for overnight temperatures above 9,000 feet to drop into the upper teens and low 20s, with humidity levels around 30-40 percent, not ideal snowmaking conditions, but as Al stated, a few degrees make a huge difference in the amount of snow produced.
Snowmakers are looking for the magic “wet bulb” temperature of around 20 degrees for optimal snowmaking conditions. The wet-bulb temperature is the lowest temperature that can be reached under current ambient conditions by the evaporation of water only; it is the temperature felt when the skin is wet and exposed to moving air. Wet-bulb temperature is largely determined by actual air temperature and humidity, the amount of moisture in the air. To better understand wet bulb, check out this link
If it sounds scientific, it is! When you combine the science with the amount of energy needed to make snow, resorts can calculate real costs for snowmaking production. The lower the wet bulb, the less expensive it is to make snow because less air is required, and compressing air takes a lot of energy, i.e. electricity.
Of course, Mother Nature can always turn on her own snowmaking system to help out. After all, in October it really doesn’t matter if the snow comes from heaven or hoses, all we want to do is get out and hit the slopes!
Photo Credit: Copper Mountain Resort
Snowmaking kicked off at Loveland on Thursday, October 4, 2012. Photo: Loveland