CAN CLOUD SEEDING HELP MAKE SNOW?
2nd September 2016
A ski area in the USA is installing a remote-operated cloud-seeding generator in the mountains in Colorado. We also look at other innovative ways snow is being made.
Five US western states, including Colorado, have earmarked $15m to fund a cloud seeding equipment in the Rocky Mountains over the next decade.
The Dolores Water Conservancy District has teamed up with the Idaho Power Company and Colorado Water Conservation Board.
“We are trying to take some leadership by upgrading the effectiveness of cloud seeding for southwest Colorado,” said Mike Preston, general manager for the Dolores Water Conservancy District.
Cloud seeders send out plumes of silver iodide into winter storm clouds to coax additional precipitation from clouds.
The method does not create clouds – rather it helps them to snow.
There are about 30 cloud-seeding generators stretching in an arc from Telluride to Mancos to Pagosa Springs.
Many of the units are 40-year-old designs and require an operator to turn them on and off when conditions warrant.
“We’re bringing in state-of-the-art machines. These allow us to get up close and personal with the mountains, and we have total control of the machines remotely,” said the cloud-seeding manager for CWCB, Joe Busto.
“They have satellite communications so we can turn them on and off with a laptop or cell phone,” he added.
For the full details then see here.
It is not expected cloud seeding will replace snowmaking anytime soon – not least because the levels of snow produced is relatively small and there is little direct control over where it falls.
But it could become an additional weapon in the operation to produce more snow.
Artificial snow has been the savious of te snowsports industry in recent years as climate change takes its toll.
See here for an earlier story on PlanetSKI this summer as we looked at snowmaking, its impact and necessity, across the world.
In a separate development in the USA the Boreal Mountain Resort in California was making snow this summer in temperatures of +33c.
Normally it needs to be around freezing for snow cannons to produce snow.
The resort is the first one in the USA to use a new way to produce snow.
In simple terms water is frozen in a giant mobile deep freeze and it is then sprayed out.
This new form of manufactured snow, because of the absence of air, melts much slower compared with artificial snow made from conventional snowmakers.
It is though not so nice to ski on and its main use could be to cover over bare patches and keep certain sections of runs open.
Boreal is the site of the first North American demonstration of a relatively new technology called Snowfactory.
The process parallels that of an industrial icemaker – essentially, a large-scale version of the icemaker in the door of many household refrigerators.
Here at PlanetSKI we saw a similar technique being used in the resort of Ax3Domaines in the French Pyrenees last winter and it was claimed to be a huge success by the resort.
It is also way of making snow whatever the temperature.
It is made inside the lorry where it is below freezing and then pumped out.
There are only 5 in the world and Ax3Domaines had one on lease for parts of last season.
“With the poor snow so far this winter it has quite literally saved our season. Without it we would have had to close some of the lower runs and this would have meant offering lift pass reductions and not so many people would have come in the first place. It has more than paid for itself,” said resort spokesman, Jacques Murat, last January.
The resort is looking to use the same system next winter.
With increasing worries about snow fall in ski resorts across the world it seems ever more inventive ways to make snow will be used.
Here at PlanetSKI we will keep you posted.
And just in case you are wondering what the ski resort of Ax les Thermes is like then check out the blog from the PlanetSKI content editor James Cove as he passed through on a road trip last winter.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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