Liberty Mountain has one of the best snowmaking systems in the
ski industry! 100% of our terrain is covered by snowmaking, so as
soon as we have cold temperatures, we can have snow all winter
long, even if we get no natural snow at all. Making snow is more
than just waiting for the weather to be cold enough to fire up the
snowguns - there are 6 key elements that need to be in place before
we begin to make snow:
- Cold temperatures
- Low humidity
- Compressed air
- Snow guns
- Snowmakers & groomers
First and foremost, we absolutely need cold weather in order to
make snow. No equipment arsenal in the world can produce good
machine-made snow without it! 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the freezing
temperature for water to turn into snow crystals, but ideal
snowmaking conditions call for temperatures to be 28 degrees or
Aside from the air temperatures, our snowmaking staff at Liberty
Mountain also keep an especially close eye on the wet bulb. The wet
bulb temperature is a combination of the air temperature and the
humidity, and is the most critical indicator for snowmaking. A wet
bulb in the low to mid 20s means we can even make snow at or above
32 degrees sometimes! In a nutshell, as the temperature and
humidity drop, the amount of snow made per hour goes up.
Compressed Air & Water
Water and compressed air is the combination that creates our
snow! Compressors create the compressed air (41,000/cfm) which is
then pushed through miles of snowmaking air pipes that line the
mountain. Another set of parallel snowmaking pipes is used to pump
up to (4,700/gpm) of water up the mountain. All the water is drawn
from our snowmaking pond located in our base area, converted into
snow over the winter, and then returned naturally to the water
table and pond in the springtime when the snow melts.
The snowgun serves as the mixing chamber for the water and air.
The 350 snow guns at Liberty Mountain vary in their specific
function and location on the mountain, depending on how they
create, blow, and position the snow.
Machine made snow is more durable than natural snow, and is
actually better for getting a great snow base here at Liberty!
Natural snowflakes have 6 arms, or dendrites that spread away from
the flake's core, and create the symmetrical crystals that make
them so pretty-but also makes them so fragile! Machine made snow on
the other hand is a simple ball of snow-no arms to break off and
get compacted down, thus being more durable for creating and
maintaining a base.
Snowmaking and Computers
Another aspect that makes our snowguns so special is that much
of our system is computerized. Once the conditions on the mountain
reach ideal snowmaking temperatures and humidity levels, our York
snowmaking system automatically fires up the snowguns, and fine
tunes each individual gun's setting based on the conditions at each
strategically placed weather station located up and down our
trails. This means we can have the entire computerized system up
and making snow in less than an hour - so as soon as we get Mother
Nature's cooperation, our slopes will be blanketed in white in no
time at all.
So, how much snow can be made in an hour?
At the ideal snowmaking conditions of a 20 degree wet
- We pump 5200 gallons of water per minute
- Each gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs
- Multiply the two (gals per min X weight) you get 43,316 lbs of
water being turned into snow per minute
- Divide that number by 2000 (# of pounds in a ton) you get 21.66
tons of snow per minute
- Multiply that by 60 (minutes per hour) that's 1,300 tons of
snow per hour!
Snowmakers and Groomers
The final touch in the snowmaking process is our staff! Our
snowmakers and groomers are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
to be on the mountain, taking advantage of ideal conditions the
moment they arrive. They work all night to prepare the mountain for
you to enjoy skiing, riding and tubing. Even when we don't get to
make snow on a certain night, the grooming staff will be hard at
work all night to get the slopes looking and feeling like there is
a nice fresh coat of snow - look at that corduroy!
There is a lot that goes into snowmaking here at Liberty, with
several departments and millions of dollars in equipment working
together. It all starts with Mother Natures blessing us with ideal
snowmaking conditions...so get ready, because she can't hold out
too much longer!