Skiing in record highs? So how do resorts make their snow?

ByAshley LoFaso, Jamie Nguyen, & John Sprei WABC logo
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Freeze snowmaker
A behind the scenes look at how snow gets made.

VERNON TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- Winter temperatures can swing from sub-zero to the 60s in the northeast, but at Mountain Creek resort in Vernon Township, New Jersey, the snow sticks all season.

Meteorologist Amy Freeze got a behind-the-scene look at how it happens.

"We haven't received that much natural snow," Mountain Creek General Manager Jason Bays said. "But we've had opportunities to make a lot of snow."

It's a full throttle operation.

"(We have) 1,200 snow guns here on property," Bays said. "It can shoot snow out and make a foot every 12 hours under optimal conditions. There is a blade that spins like a fan, but a couple hundred times faster to push out the snow."

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There are 46 ski trails that need to be covered all season, no matter what falls from the sky. And that magic can be traced to pumping stations and pipes all over the mountain.

"You would be surprised how quickly we can can get trails open," Bays said. "It took us 2 1/2 weeks from zero trails to 30 trails."

It is usually a snow storm that sends everybody to the slopes, but it's actually a million-dollar snow-making effort that keeps that powder in place.

"The natural snow brings them out, but our snow lasts longer," snow-maker Al Lazier said. "It's more durable."

Lazier started at Mountain Creek in 1969 and has been on the snow-making crew for most of that time. When temperatures get cold enough, around 28 degrees, they produce snow around the clock. Then, 40 miles of underground pipes take water from local lakes straight to the 1,200 snow guns.

"Once we have the temperatures, we fire up compressors, get the air on the hill, fire up the pumps, get water out there," Lazier said.

Depending on how cold the air gets, they regulate the flow of water, using science to produce ideal flakes. And the colder it gets, the more water they use.

"To put it in perspective, if we put all of our guns in MetLife Stadium, all 1,200 of them, we could blow one foot of snow across that entire stadium within about 12 hours," Bays said.

The science of snow guns, using air and water in the perfect combination makes snow making not only dependable, but predictable. That means instead of you waiting on snow, the snow is waiting for you.