Snowmaking 101

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!


An Introduction

Last season was very different from anything Cannonsburg skiers and riders were familiar with. With new ownership came a drastic facelift.

We invested millions of dollars in a new snow-making system to make sure if mother nature let us down, we could still cover the hill.

We updated our website to showcase all Cannonsburg has to offer.

We cleared new runs and installed new lifts to give every single person that calls Cannonsburg “home” options.

We renovated The Shop to create an amazing retail experience for skiers, snowboarders and winter enthusiasts.

We put a new computer system in place to make pass processing, sales and all the behind the scenes things easier.

We revamped everything you’ve known about Cannonsburg.

Despite all of these amazing improvements, we kept hitting snags. The temperatures wouldn’t drop low enough for us to make snow. Then the website crashed due to an amazing amount of traffic… then the rope tows weren’t working properly! It all came to a head when the computer system wasn’t up to par on our first really busy day.

We could make excuses for all of that, but that’s not how we do things. We knew completely revamping Cannonsburg wasn’t going to be an easy task, but we could never have anticipated just how hard it would really be.

We worked out the bugs, though. We finally got the hill covered in a deep base with lifts to service all those runs… and got everyone’s season passes printed!

We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we worked out those bugs to make the best possible Cannonsburg for everyone.

 We are beyond excited for this season. Check this blog every so often for updates on just about anything going here!