Close
Gift Card Welcome Lake Tahoe friend!

Can you help us? We are looking for your thoughts on planning a trip to Lake Tahoe in this brief online survey.

Your feedback will assist us in improving our efforts to better serving you, your family and friends.

By completing the survey, you will be entered to win a $100 American Express Gift Card. Your information will be kept confidential and used for statistical purposes only.

Take the Survey Not now Don't ask again
Blog

Helping Mother Nature: Snowmaking in South Lake Tahoe

Posted in Ski+Snowboard | January 9, 2014 | By Tahoe South

-- Clark Vandeventer

Which would you rather ski or ride: a foot of powder that’s dropped from the heavens or machine-made ice cream? The answer is easy. We’d all rather ski fresh powder from Mother Nature. But that choice usually isn’t ours.

And while it may sound like I’m downplaying the quality of machine made snow when I call it machine-made ice cream, don’t be mistaken. The quality of snow that comes out of these modern snow guns is actually pretty remarkable.

Right here in Tahoe South, Heavenly Mountain boasts one of the most expansive snow making systems in the world. Their snowmaking operation is rivaled by no one in Tahoe. In fact, Heavenly has more snow-making capacity than Squaw, Alpine, and NorthStar combined. On average, Heavenly makes 120 inches of snow a year, a nice compliment to the snow Mother Nature provides.

But how do you make snow?

There are three ingredients involved in making snow. The first two are exactly the same as natural snow: water and air. The third ingredient in machine-made snow is a considerable investment in snowmaking operations. 

Water and air travel through pipes and hoses and finally to snowmaking guns.  When the water that’s been traveling through the pipes hits the air that’s been traveling through the pipes, it vaporizes. Then, when it hits the cold Tahoe air, it crystalizes and forms snow.

You can’t make snow just anywhere, however. Skiing won’t be coming to San Francisco anytime soon. You need low air temperatures and low humidity -- something that we usually have plenty of during the winter at Lake Tahoe, even during dry spells.

Once you have cold temps and low humidity, you start pumping water and air through that expansive snowmaking operation. Want denser snow to establish a good base? Add more water to the mix. Want to add fluffy powder? Use less water, and more air.

Yes, I just said fluffy powder. The mixture of air and water is very heavily tilted toward air, and while it’s not the same as Mother Nature’s, it’s still fun to ski.  A lot of people will tell you that machine-made snow is hard and icy. All snow, natural or machine-made, gets hard over time -- that’s where grooming comes in. And Heavenly has a top notch fleet of groomers working hard regardless of conditions.

Wear your pajamas backwards. Wash your car. Above all, do your snow dances. You could even win a free powder ski demo rental if you can prove that you’ve got the moves. But don’t let the lack of natural snow keep you off the mountain. Hug a snowmaker and go take some turns.

Clark Vandeventer is the publisher of TahoeSkiBum.com. You can follow him on Twitter @clarkvand and read about his quest to work less, live more, and travel the world with his family at his travel and lifestyle design blog FamilyTrek.org.



Search
Keyword:

River Rafting Special - Run the Rapids!

Kids raft for $49 on our South Fork American River guided morning half day trip . Monday and Thursday departures AND Sign up 6 or more persons and receive a 20% off discount on any South Fork or Middle Fork American River guided rafting trip.

Details

Americana Village Special Offer

Stay 3 nights and get the 4th night free.*

Details

See more Tahoe South deals
Activity Tickets

Get instant tickets, reservations and information from ActivityTickets.com

V&T Train RidesSki & SnowTrail: Bike & HikeShows & MusicSpecial EventsGolfToursOn the Water
Email Newsletter

Sign up for Tahoe South news, offers, special announcements and more.

First name*
Last name
Email*
Zip Code*
Thank you for subscribing. We are looking forward to keeping you up to date!
Search The Site

Listen to the #TeamSummer jam!

Play
Stop
Mute
So Bright (Random Rab Remix)
by Vokab Kompany
70° Mostly Cloudy
Last updated: 8:20 PM
Webcam feeds across Tahoe South Launch
Videos
Twitter

South #LakeTahoe beach cleanups - Monday mornings at 9am at El Dorado beach with #oncourseevents #Caringiscool #KeepTahoeBlue

1:15 AM - 1 Aug 2014

RT @LCLindley: DO NOT MISS @SisterSparrowDB at @LiveatLakeview tonight @TahoeSouth! You will regret it if you do!!! http://t.co/z4LQrPJtfZ

10:50 PM - 31 Jul 2014

#TrickShotTitus lines up for his next awesome shot at @TahoeResort in South #LakeTahoe... http://t.co/2yiQyfxUMV

10:05 PM - 31 Jul 2014