Snowmaking at Snowbowl

Snowmaking began at Arizona Snowbowl over the weekend. It's the earliest the resort has ever fired up its snow guns. 

Fall colors have just begun to show on the San Francisco Peaks, but Arizona Snowbowl is already starting to make snow for the upcoming winter season.

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Snowbowl Snowmaking

Arizona Snowbowl began snowmaking over the weekend. Crews made snow on the shady side of the run to reduce the risk that it will melt when daytime temperatures rise. 

This is the earliest that the ski resort has ever fired up its snow guns, said J.R. Murray, resort general manager. Snowbowl also was the first ski resort in the country to start making snow this year, beating Loveland Ski Area in Colorado by a day, he said.

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Snowmaking

In this file photo, snowmaking supervisor Carl McKenna explains the features of a snowmaking machine at the Arizona Snowbowl 2014.

Snowbowl made snow Saturday and Sunday nights before temperatures again became too warm, Murray said. To make snow, the temperature has to be at least freezing and the drier the air the better, Murray said.

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Snowbowl snowmaking

Snowbowl officially began snowmaking operations on the Logjam and Wild Turkey runs at 8 p.m. Saturday.

So far, the resort has made snow on about a half-mile strip of ski trail spanning the Logjam and Wild Turkey runs. Crews are making snow on the shady side of the run, where it’s most likely to be preserved even as temperatures climb during the day, Murray said.

From now through the ski season, employees will be watching the weather and making snow whenever conditions allow, he said.

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Artificial Snow

In this 2014 file photo, a string of snowguns shoot snow onto the Hart Prarie ski run at The Arizona Snowbowl.

Getting started earlier allows Snowbowl to build up snow now and then move its guns onto more runs as opening day nears, he said.

For now, Snowbowl is drawing on water it stored last year in its 10 million-gallon pond, Murray said. According to the resort’s contract with the city of Flagstaff, reclaimed wastewater deliveries to the mountain don’t begin until November.

Emery Cowan can be reached at (928) 556-2250 or ecowan@azdailysun.com

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Emery Cowan writes about science, health and the environment for the Arizona Daily Sun, covering everything from forest restoration to endangered species recovery efforts.

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