In Michigan, winters can be iffy. It’s usually cold, but that doesn’t mean the snow is falling. Cannonsburg invested in a brand-new snowmaking system last season. This system included several new snow guns and an improved pumping system so we could put out as much snow as possible.
We get a lot of questions about snowmaking, so I sat down with Cannonsburg’s Snowmaking Expert, Kelly Bennett to get some answers.
1. What kind of conditions does Cannonsburg need to make snow?
At 28° we can possibly start making snow, but the colder it gets, the more snow we can make. One of the big factors is humidity. For example:
28° + 100% Humidity = 32°
28° + 0% Humidity = 20.8°
We’re always taught that “freezing” is 32°, but that’s just the temperature ice won’t melt. It needs to be cold and pretty dry to make snow.
Besides temperature and humidity, snowmakers have to think about wind, water temperature, and day-time temperature conditions. Getting ideal snowmaking conditions in Michigan is hard because of high temps and high humidity.
2. How much snow can Cannonsburg make?
We like to focus attention on one section of the hill at a time to create the deepest base.
In 166 minutes, we can cover one acre of area with one foot of snow.
We start with mid-rope/quad, cover the face, then the double, followed by the beginner areas and then we coat the triple.
We can pump anywhere from 20 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) to 110 GPM in each gun. This means during 24 hours of snowmaking, we can pump out 1,728,000 gallons!
On a cold, dry night we usually run 21 snow guns.
3. How does snow-making work?
First, Cannonsburg pumps water from a reservoir. This water goes through pump houses and then through underground pipes. These pipes lead to each individual snow gun. The snowmakers decide which guns to turn on and open the valves. Depending on conditions, we can open 1-4 valves. If conditions are marginal, one valve is opened. If they are prime, four valves are opened. From there, the fan guns mix compressed air with water and blow snow. We aim the guns where we want the snow to cover.
4. So when are you opening?
We can never set a true “opening date.” The second we have enough snow on the ground to provide skiers and riders a decent hill/experience, we open! In the past, opening day has been anywhere from the week of Thanksgiving to the second week in December. We have our equipment geared up and ready for those optimal snow-making conditions.
There might not be snow in your backyard, but there’s guaranteed to be plenty of snow at Cannonsburg!