How Winterplace Makes Artificial Snow for the Slopes
You may not see snow falling naturally from the sky, but snowmakers at Winterplace Ski Resort are changing the landscape in the New River Gorge white when the temperature is right.
Sitting in the mountains of Ghent, W.Va., Winterplace offers 27 skiing and snowboarding trails, terrain parks, and even a snowtubing park! In order to keep those attractions open more than 100 days a year, the park contains a 50-million-gallon reservoir that serves as a water supply for snowmaking. It is capable of pumping 7,000 gallons of water per minute to its snowmaking machines. These machines, also known as snow guns, are able to cover 100 percent of the park to create artificial white powder for you to ride on.
How do you make snow?
Much like natural snow you see fall out of the sky, a snow gun produces snow by changing water droplets into tiny ice crystals, or snowflakes. However, the difference between natural and artificial snow is that man-made snow is nothing more than a mixture of water and air being compressed with cold temperatures (28 degrees) to freeze. Natural snow, on the other hand, is condensed water vapor. If the temperature is cold enough, the water vapor transforms into snow.
Winterplace has the highest snowmaking capacity in the Southeast with its high-tech manufacturing system. Something you will find immediately in the park are its 119 tower-mounted snow guns, which spray snow into the air (when the temperature is cold and there is enough humidity) to fill a football field with 20 feet of snow in one hour.
How do you make snow if the ground is warm?
Since the resort sits at a high elevation, you can expect the temperature to be 10-20 degrees colder than the lowlands. This is great for snowmaking, because snow typically begins to accumulate when it is 32 degrees or lower. However, other factors such as ground temperature and intensity come into play as well. You will also find snow accumulate if it is falling faster than it can melt, if the ground temperature is below 32 degrees, or if it is covering already existing snow.
How do you know if Winterplace is making snow?
If you are planning a skiing/snowboarding trip to Winterplace, then you should be sure to check the daily snow report. It details if snowmaking is taking place, if natural snow is falling, and how many trails are open. This will help you plan yourself a great winter trip!
Have you been skiing on Winterplace's artificial snow?