Mountain View Technologies, Inc.

Snowmaking System Design * Research & Development * Investigations * Energy Based Mountain Information 

 

The Snowman Newsletter – Spring 2010

(The application of rational thought and science for demystifying the snowmaking process)

 

El Nino 2010 and Beyond???  The wild winter of 2009/10 emphasized the unpredictability and severity of the weather patterns associated with an El Nino event, even though it conformed to the general prediction. The winter snowmaking in the Northeast did not truly start until early December and then stayed favorable throughout the month. The winter season hammered the Mid Atlantic states along with the Southeast with a barrage of storms that stunned the local populace with their severity. By the first week of March it appeared that the winter had spent its fury. Most Memorable. The 2009 El Nino pattern appears to be dissipating into a slow evolution to La Nina, however El Nino does not disappear overnight and will continue to influence national patterns through the summer into fall. For more   http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.html and http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/09/noaa-says-el-nino-arrives-persist-winter-2009-2010-record-temperatures-hottest-decade-on-record/    Another interesting perspective from a radical Astromet viewpoint is http://forums.accuweather.com/index.php?showtopic=13603

More to come in the Fall 2010 Newsletter.

 

Snowmaking Energy Index (SEI)… The SEI pilot program initiated last winter has been completed and the SEI methodology successfully proofed. The current worldwide emphasis on energy conservation and productivity has continued to spotlight snowmaking not only from an equipment perspective, but also from an intelligent energy management viewpoint. The SEI methodology is a metric that allows disparate snowmaking systems to be compared on an energy and water use basis irrespective of ski area size and snow gun type. It provides a baseline measurement or index of existing snowmaking system performance and productivity for future enhancements and change. It is one step in redirecting the snow industry’s focus to the importance of intelligent and consistent energy management. Info request on implementing this powerful tool: SEI

Snowmaking Factoids… Snowmaking equipment has evolved over the past decade to the point where the performance differences of disparate equipment has become more difficult to measure, hence the revival of snow deposition (volume) testing over a given time period. Bravo! However some notes of caution are to be considered for valid and reproducible results. 1. Any water flow meters used in this type of testing for total test flows should be compared to a given standard and checked against each other, 2. The majority of air flow meters are calibrated to a given operating air pressure – operation at other pressures will require a correction factor to be applied to the air flow reading, 3. The ending volume measurement, while in itself useful, does not give an accurate portrayal of the actual water volume deposited in the test area – you will need to measure the actual snow density (lbs/ft3) in various spots throughout the deposition area. Note that every snow gun produces a different crystal size that can vary the actual density of the snow. Hence the amount of actual water deposited in the test area will change for a given volume.

Electrical Power Politics…Snow White or Faux Green  The power equation for the snowmaking industry has been relatively stable for the past year, however it is difficult to predict for how long! Most ski areas blend their power requirements and operations according to the regional availability of electrical power and further adjusted to their snowmaking system demands. The adjustments are typically diesel compressors to reduce electrical demand and in some instances auxiliary power. It is interesting to note that small northeast ski areas of ~150 snowmaking acres will use approximately 90% of their total mountain electrical power for snowmaking in the month of December. The rest of the power is for lifts and infrastructure. This demand will vary according to weather patterns and ambient temperatures. The typical total electrical use for this month would be approximately 750 mWh (megawatt hours) with an hourly demand limit of 3,000 kWh or 3.0 mWh. Interesting when you multiply this demand by the number of areas that are in the Northeast as a whole… A recent article in the Boston Globe Magazine: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/05/09/power_politics/ describes the future battles and needs for electrical power. It is forecast by the US Energy Information Agency that over the next 30 years electrical demand will increase 40%. FYI – a small reactor such as Vermont Yankee produces 650 megawatts of demand. The high profile wind turbine at a Massachusetts ski area produces a maximum of 1.5 megawatts. So where do we go from here????

 

Contact

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.

 

 

P.O. Box 439, Bethel, Vermont 05032

Phone/Fax: 802.234.5558

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Email: ystanchak@the-snowman.com