Winter Park Resort ready to fire up snowmaking guns
Mother Nature put on quite a show Thursday, bringing down the season’s first substantial snowfall from Winter Park to Hot Sulphur Springs.
As the Fraser Valley curls up under its first snowfall on Thursday evening, Winter Park Resort’s snowmaking team will be prepping for its own encore.
Jeremy Golnik, Winter Park Resort’s snowmaking foreman, said the resort would fire up its snow guns later Thursday evening.
“The system is ready to go and the guns are out in the field with hoses on them ready to go,” Golnik said. “We’re kind of just on stand-by waiting on temperature.”
With more than 15 years of snowmaking experience under his belt, Golnik is attuned to the many variables that spell prime time for making snow.
Its primarily a combination of humidity and temperature that dictates when snowmaking can begin, Golnik said.
Together, the two are measured in a metric called wet-bulb temperature that’s used by snowmakers around the world to determine when to start making snow.
In layman’s terms, Golnik said he and his team are waiting for the temperature to hit 27 degrees, which could happen around midnight.
Though one would like to think that the commencement of snowmaking on the eve of the Fraser Valley’s first snow is more than serendipity, temperatures and humidity just haven’t been right until now.
Right now, the resort has around 20 guns trained on a three to four acre stretch of Sorensen Park and Parkway, Golnik said.
“That’s our primary opening day run, so that’s what we concentrate on first, and then from there we usually like to move up the mountain up on Cranmer,” Golnik said.
Most of those guns are “double Ratniks,” Golnik said, a type of high-pressure, high-volume snow gun.
The resort will shut its guns off once the temperature rises back to 27 degrees.
Early in the season, snowmaking is typically restricted to late at night when temperatures drop below the requisite 27 degrees, but as lower temperatures become more permanent, the resort can keep its guns on longer.
“Early in the season we lacked air, and later in the season we lack water, so as the temperature drops lower and lower we can turn the guns up higher and higher so that we have more air and can turn on more guns,” Golnik said.
Later in the season, the resort can have anywhere from 32 to 35 guns going at any given time.
Winter Park Resort has 33 employees on its snowmaking staff, said Snowmaking Supervisor Ron Richards.
The resort plans to open on Nov. 18.
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With the incoming cold weather, Rocky Mountain National Park is planning to burn several slash piles across the park when appropriate.