Snowmaking begins at Ragged Mountain

Let it snow (at the Camden Snow Bowl)

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 6:15pm

CAMDEN — The snow making equipment was turned on at 4:30 p.m., Dec. 4, at the Camden Snow Bowl, where a crew kept the guns running through the night, until the 8 a.m., Dec. 5, when they lost a phase of power. Central Maine Power was called and after fixing the problem, The Snow Bowl began making snow again at noon today, with a goal of opening the mountain to the 2018-2019 season on Dec. 22.

So far, the problems they have been encountering as they make snow for the first time this season have been minor, reported staff.

The crew is now making snow on Foxy, Coaster, Half Hitch and Slipway. They will run non-stop, three people per shift, three shifts around the clock.

Ideal snow-making temperature is 12-15 degrees. Anything under 20 degrees, the Snow Bowl staff can make snow, even with 100 percent humidity. As the temperatures rise, 27 degrees for example, and the humidity is more than 30 percent, that combination makes fairly low quality snow, staff said.

“Wind chills can have an effect on the water lines freezing, and of course blowing wind moves the snow where we don’t necessarily want it,” reported the Snow Bowl staff. “But when the temperatures are in the teens, and Mountain Manager Tom Beauregard and his crew can’t do any more tweaks to the system, they go on autopilot and just maintain and watch for issues to crop up.”

He said: “I plan to run the guns overnight and shut them off Thursday morning. We will turn them back on Friday, even with a forecasted temperature increase, because it’s only supposed to warm up for a few hours. And then it will get back down to the mid-20s, so that is not enough time to make a difference.”

Beauregard said that when there are unfavorable conditions, he will turn the system off to save hours and money, then restart when the temperatures are back at optimum conditions.

“But if we are only talking about a few hours of unfavorable conditions, with ideal temperatures on either side of that, we will milk the snowmaking equipment to work on covering bare ground,” said  Beauregard. “That actually helps build a good base. Then, when the temps drop again, we move over to top fill what’s already there.”

If  the temperatures are sustained, the equipment runs efficiently and they are able to move the guns around the mountain, in about a week they will look at a more solid opening date commitment.

“It will give us a better view on the future,” said Beauregard.

“If we can open sooner, it would be Dec. 15, but that’s wishful thinking at this point,” said Snow Bowl Asst. Director Holly Edwards. “We will be watching the forecast, and monitoring the snow accumulation. And it would be nice for natural snow to mix in along the way here too.”