Snowmaking System Design * Research & Development * Investigations * Energy Based Mountain Information
The Snowman Newsletter – Fall / Early Winter 2009
(The application of rational thought and science for demystifying the snowmaking process)
El Nino strikes again… The ocean currents off the west coasts of North and South America are flip-flopping again promising to impact the winter weather patterns across the US. The severity of an El Nino event is very dependent upon the degree of sea surface warming off the South American coast. While there have been a number of events over the past 30 years the strongest ones occurred in 1982/1983 and 1997/1998. Hard to speculate on the intensity and longevity of this ENSO event so early into the season and its ultimate impact on the US as a whole. Bear in mind that the impact of an ENSO event can last a year or two down the road. The weather service forecasts are based on probabilities, and at times are challenging for the layman to make heads or tails of the forecast. So in general, here are their best shots: google el nino 2009 predictions or the following http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~pierce/elnino/elnino.html as a start, http://ingrid.ldgo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Indices/ensomonitor.html - overall a good way to spend an hour or two. BTW, the Farmers Almanac is at odds with the basic NOAA winter forecasts – go figure?
Above Ground Piping Systems… Above ground piping systems are the saving grace and bane of extensive snowmaking systems in challenging and rocky terrain. Mostly the system of choice due to one simple fact – cost! The challenge here is to prevent the water line from freezing and this is easily done by flowing lots of water out of the end of the pipe. So the question here is how much is too much or too little? How much of your seasonal pump energy is devoted to feeding this energy parasite? How much of your yearly water is devoted to this necessity? All good questions and normally answered by “we got it covered…” Congratulations, go to the next section – however, if the CEO and CFO along with your shrinking manpower and supplies budget give you reason to pause, then read the following. The Snowman and faithful Snow Wizards have been re-inventing the approach to above ground water piping design and overflows; we have developed a number of methodologies to control and quantify the magnitude of these parasitic losses. Through the magic of science, solid engineering and practical design you can achieve net zero overflows in your above ground water piping in most instances, of course some modification is required. Bonus points – more available water, more electrical power or demand reduction over your current status quo.
Contact us for a no pressure friendly discussion of the potential benefits for your area of the Net Zero Overflow designs.
Snowmaking Factoids… Our experience over the past 25 years has shown that the density of man made snow ranges from the light 23 lbs/ft3 to the heavy 31 lbs/ft3 for dry snow. This range of values is based on numerous tests with a variety of snowmaking equipment with the average being about 27-28 lbs/ft3. The density of dry snow is very much a function of the type of snowmaking hardware – some snow guns just produce a lighter or heavier snow! There was an effort a number of years ago to correlate the density of a snow sample with snow quality. Not! While intuitively this may seem to be a positive solution for the age-old question of snow quality, unfortunately it is not! If the snow is sopping wet and heavy it may appear that this is a good approach, however if water is leaching out your snow then obviously your productivity is taking a beating, even though it appears that the efficiency is up. A so last century concept! Duh! Good man made snow does not leach out water – the unfrozen water is retained within the ice crystal. Getting back to the main point – Snow density is not a reliable indicator of snow quality. The true snow quality value is dependent on the unfrozen water content of the deposited snow.
Arctic Meltdown??? Interesting links relating to recent news on the impacts from the melting ice in the North and South Polar regions http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8264345.stm Another quick link http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090923/ap_on_sc/us_sci_big_melt_2 and lastly for the more technically inclined reader http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/tropical-glacier-retreat/
Mountain View Technologies, Inc. and the Snowman have provided innovative, practical and technology-based solutions for 25 years. Let our experience and expertise work for you and your area in providing solid management tools that can create a positive impact on your snowmaking energy demand and operational costs.