New technology now enables 70-degree snowmaking

Ski resorts in the Northeast need consistent below-freezing temperatures to make it easier to create artificial snow—hard to do when the region experiences unseasonably high temperatures at the start of winter.

But one ski resort in Pennsylvania is an exception.

Located about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, Spring Mountain Adventures recently ushered in a new era of snowmaking equipment.

For 22 years, the resort has relied on a snowmaking system that requires low temperatures to produce snow. Because of this, resort officials start each winter wondering when they will be able to open for the season.

“Sometimes you open on December 10 or 15. Sometimes you don’t open until January 2, 3 or 5, and you miss Christmas week,” says John Brown, manager of Spring Mountain Adventures. In an interview with AccuWeather.

Snowmaking at Spring Mountain Adventures. (John Brown)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, resorts experienced slow snow seasons, leaving them wondering what they could do to attract customers.

“You can implement it like a summer business, but skiing is our main source of income,” Brown said.

The family began researching ways to keep the business running even when the weather was uncertain. Their research led them to Latitude 90, a Canadian company that specializes in snowmaking equipment that can operate at higher temperatures.

According to the company’s website, All Weather Snowmaking Technology is a closed, self-contained system that can produce snow between minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The device can withstand ambient temperature, wind and humidity.

In April, the Spring Mountain team flew to a North Carolina ski resort to see the machine in action, and they were not disappointed.

“I think it’s just an exciting new tool that can help seasonal businesses like ours fight climate change,” Brown said.

Snowmaking at Spring Mountain Adventures. (John Brown)

While the machines can’t supply an entire mountain with snow, it’s enough to help small resorts like Spring Mountain stay in business. Even if the weather gets too warm, resorts can still open novice lifts, begin serving season pass holders and offering lessons.

Brown told AccuWeather that because Spring Mountain Adventures is a great small resort for beginners, his resort is also an ideal place for a machine like the Latitude 90 to run.

While larger mountain resorts like Blue Mountain in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, can use the machine in the base area, smaller resorts like Spring Mountain Adventures can get enough snow from the machine to open the lift, for about 400 -500 feet of terrain to service.

“You try to do this with a 2,000-foot elevator. You’re going to need 20 of these boxes [snow-making machines]said Brown.

The miracle happened inside an old shipping container that was converted from a Latitude 90 into a snow gun. The machine runs on electricity and water only, and is able to continue without relying on any external conditions because all the snow and ice is made inside before being sent out.

Inside the container, two large refrigerated buckets soak up water and freeze it as it runs down the buckets. The ice is then shredded by blades and creates snow. The blade can be set to two different speeds, thus setting the fineness of the snow it outputs.

Snowmaking at Spring Mountain Adventures. (John Brown)

The device doesn’t just specialize in snow. It also comes with security features and monitors that allow ski resort operators to log in and see how the machine is doing from anywhere, Brown said. Cameras inside and outside the barrel also help the team ensure proper snow and ice production at all times.

“We don’t need someone there. It runs on its own. It’s very user-friendly,” Brown said.

The Spring Mountain crew was able to figure out the machine and get it up and running in a matter of days. The resort officially started snowmaking on November 1. 3 The machine has been running for almost four weeks now.

The resort began using a traditional fan snowmaking system when it was acquired in 2000. This entailed pumping water from a nearby water source and using it to fill the vault through a network of pipes. Resorts also use fan guns, which are self-contained units that compress air and water directly into the gun through a hydrant. A bucket then sends the mixture together under pressure, atomizing the water into fine particles that fall like snow.


The resort’s new spray guns require fewer nozzles and are more efficient, but temperature and humidity are still a factor in this type of setup.

“You can run snow guns at 30-28 (degrees), the critical temperature for snowmaking,” Brown said.

On November 2, temperatures at Spring Mountain Adventures topped 70 degrees, which meant it was impossible to make snow the old-fashioned way. However, new technology installed on the Latitude 90 allows the resort to make snow in unusually warm weather.

“It doesn’t care about the outside. It doesn’t matter how hot it is outside; it can still do its job,” Brown said.

Snowmaking at Spring Mountain Adventures. (John Brown)

As of December 2022, there are six of these machines in operation across the United States. Spring Mountain Expedition was the first to operate the device in Northeast China. The machine is also used along the west coast of California. Japan’s ski resorts also use about 10 units.

“When your only business is as dependent on the weather as a ski resort, it’s almost a no-brainer. There are [a] Great investment, but what’s the value of getting your business up and running? said Brown.

The new Latitude 90 means resorts no longer have to guess about possible opening dates.

“It’s a guarantee for us that we can make snow anytime, start anytime,” Brown said.

Spring Mountain Expeditions became the first and only location in the Northeast to install the technology. Eight of those devices are expected to be up and running in the U.S. by the end of 2022, Michigan-based Fox 17 reported.

“We can definitely guarantee an opening date without a doubt … we look forward to opening on time or sooner,” Brown said.

Additional reporting by Monica Danielle.

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