Brendan Weber

Lake Tahoe Resorts Fire Up Snowmaking Machines as Ski Season Nears

Resorts need four ingredients to create man-made snow: water, cold temperatures, compressed air and low humidity

When Mother Nature doesn't provide a helping hand, ski resorts turn to man-made creations to blanket their peaks with fresh snow.

That's certainly the case so far this fall as Lake Tahoe ski resorts start to fire up snowmaking machines as they prepare for the deluge of skiers and snowboarders gearing up to hit the slopes.

Sugar Bowl Resort located near Truckee is just one of the Tahoe area resorts to have already flipped the on switch on the snow-hurling machines as the region waits for Mother Nature to deliver a powder-packed storm.

This past summer, Sugar Bowl spent $3 million to begin the process of enhancing its snowmaking system, according to the resort. About three years from now and a grand total of $8 million later, the resort will be churning out more man-made snow at a faster rate while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions.

Sugar Bowl Resort
Workers watch over snowmaking machines at Sugar Bowl Resort. (Oct. 30, 2018)

In the simplest of explanations, resorts need four ingredients to craft a batch of fresh powder: water, cold temperatures, compressed air and low humidity, according to Sugar Bowl.

"The colder and drier the conditions get, the more snow the guns can turn out," according to Sugar Bowl. "The outside air temperature is a rough guide for determining when snowmaking can begin, but it is the relative humidity that will determine the quantity and quality of the snow that can be produced."

Sugar Bowl Resort
A dusting of snow coats the landscape at Sugar Bowl Resort. (Oct. 30, 2018)

In addition to Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Boreal Mountain Resort have turned on snowmaking machines in advance of the impending ski season.

Sugar Bowl hopes to open its lifts on Nov. 30, but that date of course depends on the weather and the conditions on the mountain.

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