New technology can make snow at 70 degrees


Ski resorts in the Northeast require constant below-freezing temperatures in order to create artificial snow, which is difficult to do in early winter when temperatures are so high in this region.

But one ski resort in Pennsylvania is an exception.

Located about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, Spring Mountain Adventures recently ushered in a new era of snowmaking equipment.

For 22 years, the resort has relied on a snowmaking system that requires cold temperatures to create snow. Because of this, the resort management was left wondering when the season would open every year at the beginning of winter.

“Sometimes you’re open on December 10th and 15th. Sometimes you’re not open until January 2nd, 3rd, 5th and you miss the Christmas week window,” John Brown, manager of Spring Mountain Adventures, told AccuWeather said in an interview.

Make snow for a spring mountain adventure. (John Brown)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the resort had a long snow season, which left them wondering what they could do to attract customers.

“You can run it like a summer business, but skiing is our source of income,” Brown said.

The family began researching ways to keep the business going despite the uncertain weather. Their research led to Latitude 90, a Canadian company that specializes in snowmaking equipment that can operate at higher temperatures.

All-Weather Snow Making Technology is an enclosed self-contained system capable of making snow from 4 degrees Fahrenheit to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. according to the company’s website. The device can withstand ambient temperature, wind and moisture.

In April, the Spring Mountain team flew to a ski resort in North Carolina to see the machine in action, and they were not disappointed.

“I think this is a great new tool to help seasonal businesses like us deal with climate change,” Brown said.

Make snow for a spring mountain adventure. (John Brown)

This machine can’t snow the entire mountain, but it’s good enough to do business at smaller resorts like Spring Mountain. Even if the weather is unseasonably warm, the resort will open a beginner’s lift to serve season pass holders and provide lessons.

Brown told AccuWeather that Spring Mountain Adventures is a small resort that’s perfect for beginners, so his resort is the perfect place to run a machine like Latitude 90.

Larger mountain resorts like Blue Mountain in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, can use the machine in the base area, while smaller resorts like Spring Mountain Adventures get enough snow from the machine to lift a 400- to 500-foot service chair lift.

“Try that with a 2,000-foot elevator. You’re going to need about 20 of these boxes. [snow-making machines]” said Brown.

The magic happens inside an old shipping container converted into a snowmobile from 90th Latitude. The machine is capable of running only on feed power and water, and all the ice can continue to work without relying on external conditions. and the snow is made inside before it is sent outside.

Inside the tank, two large cooling barrels take water and freeze it as it enters the drum. The ice is then passed through the blade, which chops it up to form snow. The blower can be adjusted to two different speeds, which adjust the fineness of the snow it produces.

Make snow for a spring mountain adventure. (John Brown)

The device does not only specialize in snow. Brown says it’s loaded with security features and screens that allow ski resort operators to log in from anywhere and see how the machine is working. Cameras inside and outside the barrel also help the crew produce ice and snow properly.

“We don’t have to have anybody. It works by itself. It’s very user-friendly,” Brown said.

Spring Mountain workers were able to identify the machine and get it up and running within days. The resort officially began making snow on Nov. 3 and has now been operating the machine for nearly four weeks.

When the resort was purchased in 2000, it started with traditional fan guns that made snow. For this, it was necessary to draw water from a nearby source and use it to fill the tunnel through pipes. The resort also uses a fan gun, a self-contained device that pumps air and water directly into the gun through a hydrant. A barrel of the mixture is then sent under pressure, turning the water into fine particles that fall as snow.

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Newer resort guns require fewer nozzles and are more efficient, but temperature and humidity are still factors in this type of installation.

“You can run a snow gun in 30 to 28 degrees, the lowest temperature for snow,” says Brown.

Temperatures at Spring Mountain Adventures were above 70 degrees on Nov. 2, meaning snowmaking the old fashioned way was impossible. But with the installation of new technology from the 90th latitude, the resort has been able to get snow on unseasonably warm days.

“He doesn’t care about the outside. It doesn’t matter how hot it is outside, he can get the job done,” Brown said.

Make snow for a spring mountain adventure. (John Brown)

As of December 2022, six of these snowmobiles are operating in the United States. Spring Mountain Adventures was the first to operate the device in the Northeast. The machine is also being used along the west coast of California. Also, about 10 devices are used in Japanese ski areas.

“When your only business depends on the weather, like a ski resort, it’s almost nothing to worry about. [a] big investment, but how much is it worth to start a business?” Brown said.

Latitude 90’s new equipment means the resort no longer has to guess about its opening days.

“It’s a guarantee for us that we can make snow when we want and start working when we want,” Brown said.

Spring Mountain Adventures became the first and only place in the Northeast to install the technology. By the end of 2022, eight devices are expected to be in service in the United States. According to Fox 17 in Michigan.

“We can confirm the opening date without a doubt… We look forward to opening on time or early,” Brown said.

Additional reporting by Monica Daniell.

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