What do snowboarding, skiing, snow tubing, and snowmobiling have in common? The answer is quite obvious – snow! As staples of resorts across the globe, these iconic winter sports are only possible if that white, wintery precipitation falls from the sky and blankets the mountains…or so you thought. This is where air compressors come in, which are essential to creating the perfect powder that you see while shredding the slopes. In many resort locations, the amount of natural snowfall isn’t enough to meet the snow level requirements; hence artificial snow, powered by snowmaking compressors, is produced to help reach optimal snow levels and ensure that these recreational activities continue uninterrupted.
How Do Air Compressors Help Produce Snow?
The artificial snow production process is relatively simple, as well as environmentally friendly. There is typically a pond(s) located towards the bottom of the mountain, and when a larger base of snow is needed, water from the pond is piped up to the top of the mountain. When it reaches the mountaintop, compressed air shoots pressurized air and water out of snow guns into the air as mist, where it eventually falls as tiny snowballs onto the slopes. Compressed air not only powers the snow guns, but also is essential in that it splits the water into tiny droplets, making it easier to form snowflakes in the sub-freezing temperatures.
A cool fact about artificial snow production is that it is cyclical; as snow melts, it returns to the pond, is eventually piped back up the mountain, and then shot out of the snow guns via compressors to continue the snowmaking process.
The Benefits of Using Air Compressors for Snowmaking
Did you know that the artificial snow produced by air compressors is of a higher quality than natural snowfall? This means that recreational winter activities benefit from having artificial snow on the slopes! The reason comes down to the snow’s makeup. Artificial snow is rounder and thicker than natural snow, as well as doesn’t have the small branches that a natural snowflake displays; these elements mean that artificial snow is much more conducive to supporting skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. Using air compressors also makes these popular winter activities possible even in less-than-ideal conditions, such as steadily warming global temperatures and less than sufficient snowfall amounts.
Efficiency is Necessary in Snowmaking Air Compressors
No matter the size of the resort, the cost of snowmaking is significant. It’s when you realize that to 75% of snowmaking costs comes directly from the air compressor system itself that makes it clear that resorts should invest in highly efficient compressor technology to keep these costs down as much as possible. Keep in mind that cost shouldn’t dictate the quality of the air compressors that you invest in; rather, the higher quality the compressor, the better the chance that your snowmaking process will continue without issue.
About the Author. Katie Falcon is the contributing writer and editor for The Compressed Air Blog. She currently works at Atlas Copco Compressors as a Digital Marketing Specialist specializing in content creation and platform development. Reach her via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Carter Thiel is the technical contributor and currently works as a Product Marketing Manager at Atlas Copco Compressors. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.