Through The Eyes of a SnowmakerCheck out what snowmaking looks like right from their own eyes. Photo credit: Kimber Francoeur
What We Have Done in 48 hoursJiminy’s powerful snowmaking system allows us to recover from weather events as fast as anybody out there. Here’s what we mean when we say that.
In the last 48 hours we have……
• Made snow out of 350 different hydrants resurfacing 10 miles of terrain to mostly packed powder.
• We have increased the base depth another 8”-10”. Now at 12”-36”.
• We have switched snowmaking from trail to trail and have made it now on 31 different trails.
• The groomers have said “Uncle!” more than once! But they know we need the snow.
• We have converted 9 million gallons of water into snow in the last 50 hours. That is the equivalent of 36 million gallons of snow and of covering 180 football fields with 1 foot of fresh snow.
• Most importantly – “And we ain’t done yet!” By Friday morning, all 36 of our snowmaking trails will have been top dressed with 1 foot of new snow.
“…….. By the way we have 107 acres of skiing open of snowmaking terrain. You do the math on how deep the base is! Just saying……..” – From my blog dated 12/1.
As I look over my last blog I can’t help but wonder if Mother Nature/Snow God/Insert Preferred Deity Here, read the blog and figured I had too much hubris and not enough humility and choose to give me one “right in the kisser”! You all know how much rain we have gotten, how warm the temperatures were. With all that, the trails still had good overage from side to side and adequate snow depth. Yes, to be accurate, there are some brown patches mostly from the groomers spreading the base as best as they could but the skiing was extremely good, just ask the guests that were out there.
Now, there is no sense crying over melted snow, and I will keep the hubris to a minimum.
Cold temps will return tonight and snowmaking will start up with a vengeance, first only at night then 24 hours a day.
Overnight we will run over 360 guns over 27 of our snowmaking trails broken out into 3 - 120 guns running - 5 hour time frames that will cover enormous sections of the mountain with fresh new snow. Then do it again the next night.
– Note to Mother Nature: We are not trying to be better than you, we are just taking advantage of the weather you give us and that is not boasting, just the truth about the snowmaking fire power that Jiminy has.
Beyond tomorrow, the temperatures continue to drop – nod to Mother Nature – and we will be making snow around the clock. So rest assured that the surface conditions, base depth, trail count will all continue to improve and the skiing and riding will be back to “awesome” within a couple days. The terrain parks are all open, Terrain Based Learning is built and again this year receiving rave reviews by both new skiers and boarders and veteran skiers and boarders, and a storm is forecasted for next weekend. Let’s hope it will be snow!
Keep those prayers coming.
This past week’s forecast was not pretty, as you all know. With weather’s fickle nature, preparing sometimes becomes more of a plan to react instead of a finalized list of procedures. With years of experience in this industry, and a bit of hopeful maneuvers, Jiminy’s team is able to retain quality, despite what mother nature throws our way. This industry is full of passion, and it is letters like this from loyal guests like Jeff that keep us going year after year!
I skied Christmas Day and, though there were not many of us out there, I was knocked out that – after such a huge rain storm – once again there was decent skiing at Jiminy. And so early in the season.
Closing the east side and then opening it yesterday was exactly the right thing to do. I could not believe the quality of the skiing on White Tail, Jericho, Wild Turkey and Cutter. And the skiing on the west side was better than Christmas Day (where did you find the snow to spread out?).
Yeah, some might say there were some rough spots, but no one else could have had the amount of terrain open and skiable. Wish I could be there today. Looks like cold weather is returning so you should really be good from here.
Please make sure your crew knows how much we appreciate their skill and dedication. When there’s bad weather, Jiminy is the place to go. No question.
A Letter From The President
Greetings Jiminy Nation,
Well mother nature is not playing so nice, but we are prepared. We have a ton of snow on the mountain and are planning to alter our operational plan to ensure the absolute best possible surface and most amount of terrain for the upcoming holiday week. The name of the game will be ‘conservation”- conserve as much snow as possible through this rain event. On Wednesday we will open only the Cricket Triple, Novice and Grand Slam chair lifts, and the trails that can be accessed from those lifts, with a lower mountain lift ticket rate of $30. Thursday will be somewhat curtailed as well, but we will make a call on that terrain as we get closer. Once the rain event moves on its merry way on Christmas Day, we should see a nice change in weather and a beautiful weekend of skiing. Our groomers will work their magic and winter weather will return over the weekend into early next week. There is potential for some natural snow as well as good looking snowmaking weather. We will rebound quickly with a formidable trail count and the best skiing and riding around for our guests. We have what the others don’t have, we have Snowmageddon.
Have a great day everyone.
The Wicked Winds From The East
Wow! The first month of snowmaking season has been a wild ride! We’ve had a water drought, rain deluges, snow blizzards, record lows temps, record high temp, and winds from every direction. Take your compass and flick it with your finger and that is where the winds are blowing from, well today anyway. You know that old saying, if you don’t like the weather then wait a minute…..
For us, THE WORST direction for the wind to blow from is the east and that covers south east through north east which is half of the compass. An easterly wind makes it impossible to make snow from 86% of the hydrant locations due to the snow blowing back on the snow gun or in the woods. Our pipelines are located on the west side of the trails by design because the NORMAL wind direction in the winter is from the northwest allowing the snow to cover the trails to the east of the pipeline.
Later today, we will be starting up snowmaking with dropping temperatures and a stiff northwest wind. (As I am writing this it is already 17 degrees wet bulb at the summit) I am sure you know and appreciate; the Snowmageddon Team minimizes the number of gun operating on open skiing terrain. We will be lighting up the snowmaking on the trails that are closed with nearly 60 guns. As soon as the Resort closes (today at 4pm), we will be starting another 70 guns to grab the cold temperatures and favorable winds to get down as much base as possible before the wicked winds of the east come our way tonight. Those winds will force us to back down snowmaking to one compressor running only 60 guns at 10 degrees. That is so frustrating, when we could be running triple that number! If the wind would only blow from the west!
Cursing the weather, which can be a full time job for a snowmaker, unfortunately does not get us anywhere. For example, the current forecast for a storm due to hit Tuesday(ish) is a range from 2 inches of rain to 2 feet of snow. It does make me scratch my head though. Yes, I have my fingers crossed that it will be snow, of course.
The Snowmageddon crews are getting their gear on, pumps and compressors are ready, reservoirs are full. We are locked and loaded and going to fire when we see the whites of their eyes! Whichever direction the winds blow, we will be doing our best to lay down as much of that wonderful white stuff as fast as we can to cover and open as much terrain as possible. Because, after all, we are skiers and boarders too!
It Snowed! No Really, It Snowed!The snowmaker when it comes to weather isn’t really any different than anybody else. We always complain about the weather! It’s too hot or it’s too cold. When this time, (are you ready for it? You can see this coming right?) Ya, IT SNOWED! 14” to 18” inches of that wonderful awesome white powder. If you didn’t get out to the mountain on Friday, you really missed out on some if not THE BEST New England Powder Skiing! No Sierra Cement here! And yes we were out there turning it up. No Black Friday sales for us. We were messing up Mother Nature’s wonderful blanket of fresh snow. I mean, what else is a snowmaker to do?
Sorry, I got so excited. The Snowmageddon Team has been cranking out nearly 38 million gallons of water and turning that into base on 18 trails. The number of trails open due to snowmaking is unprecedented by this time of year. We are skiing in November with mid December ski conditions and trail counts. That monumentous feat is a credit to the Snowmageddon Team and Jiminy’s investment in snowmaking infrastructure over time. Remember Pump Four? It was installed last year (2013); it was one of the champions that got us to this point.
Pump Four takes 900 gallons per minute of water from the Summit Reservoir and supplies it to the upper middle trails of the mountain. That enables us to use the main pumps to focus their fire power of 2,000 gallons per minute to cover the east and west sides at the same time. And don’t forget there is still more water of another 2,000 gallons per minute from the Summit Reservoir that is used to make snow all over the lower third of the mountain. So at moments in time we were converting close to 5,000 gallons of water into snow per minute.
What does that look like you might ask? Well, as an example, 5,000 gpm for 1 hour equals 1 ½ feet of snow over an acre, or 1 ½ acre/feet. What does that look like? Most people are familiar with football. A NFL football field is 300 feet by 160 feet. In my example, Jiminy would produce 1 ½ feet of snow over that NFL football field in just 1 hour.
By the way we have 107 acres of skiing open of snowmaking terrain. You do the math on how deep the base is! Just saying.
Thickening BloodYou know when each winter starts and you are freezing cold when temp drifts towards 32 degrees. Then after a few weeks, 32 degrees is like a day at the beach? Well that's where the snowmakers are today! Pouring out piles of snow at 17 degrees with their shirt sleeves rolled up!
They have been making a ton of snow over the last 10 days. Converting over 20 million gallons of water into the fine white stuff we like to ski and ride on. Saturday we will re-open for our second early season weekend, with 14 trails and will add 2 more on Sunday. Those 14 trails are West Way, Grand Slam, North Glade, Lower Glade, RipTide, Willie’s Gulch, Upper Fox, Lower Fox, Exhibition East (opening late), Upper Sling Shot, Lower Sling Shot, 360, 180, Cricket. On Sunday we will add Left Bank and Grouse Run. Yeah Snowmakers! And did I forget to add that the Grommetville will have some features in it? So yes, we all have been very busy.
In addition, we have started to make snow on Whitetail and Jericho and hope to have them open in early December.
The weather is going to moderate next week. That will allow us time (1) to prepare for our next snowmaking stint on Cutter, Winding Brook, Wild Turkey, Whitetail, Outback, Ace of Spades, and John Hancock (2) to refill the Snowmaking Water Reservoirs, (3) maybe get some well deserved time off, and (4) have a relatively quiet Thanksgiving. Current planned snowmaking start up is Thanksgiving night around 2am.
The computer guys are still working the bugs out of our newish snowmaking data acquisition system so our dashboards need to be double checked by a person but they are getting closer to be finished and more accurate.
Last week we were all bundled up for the frigid Polar Vortex and today we are working without gloves or jackets Vortex or not.
Look Out Snowmaking World! We are on a roll!
Yes, we New Englanders Snowmakers are a hearty bunch with thickening blood.
Thinking Cold Thoughts
After a successful “First Night” of Snowmaking this past Friday night where the temperatures allowed snowmaking from the summit down to the top of 360 and down West Way and part of Grand Slam, we are pretty much dialed in to our snowmaking strategy.
The issues we encountered on our system shake down have been remedied and we are ready to go for our first stint of snowmaking for real. Start up will be Thursday evening with the goal of having enough snow down for some turns on Saturday. That goal is pretty optimistic giving the short weather window and the marginal temps, so maybe it might be Sunday instead. Of course, it will all be up to the actual weather we get and NOT the forecasted weather the weathermen talk about.
So we are ensuring that our snowmaking water reservoirs are full to the brim, the mountain is ready, our pressure system is “auto-started”, and the crews get some much needed rest.
We are chomping at the bit now just waiting for the cold weather to get here. Our focus for opening trails will be on the Summit/Back Chute, West Way, North and Lower Glades, Upper and Lower Sling Shot, 360 and 180. We will also be making on Lower West Way and Grand Slam but they need more time to get open than the interior trails. If time and temperatures allow we will expand the trail network by making snow of Left Bank, Grouse Run, Exhibition East, Raccoon’s Den, Mogul Thing and Cricket.
Think Cold Thoughts and we will be on our Snowmageddon way!
Almost Ready & Temps are Getting Colder!“I love it when a plan comes together!” Or maybe it should read “Holy C#%p where did the summer go?”
The crews are right out straight.
Getting the last bit of pipe in the ground and welded.
Taking delivery of an order of snow guns
Topping off the last few million gallons of water in the summit reservoir
Connecting the new and improved Snowmageddon Snowmaking Monitoring System together
– I can’t wait to see the snowmaking dash board on the computer.
Pictures to follow in a week or so.
The weather forecasts seem to change overnight. They Do. Really!
There was supposed to be a snow storm tomorrow night. You heard the weatherman say that…Right? Now Nothing! The storm will be too far east and is going out to sea. Then yesterday, no one was calling for snowmaking temps for the next 3 weeks. Today, they are calling for snowmaking temps for a week from Monday. That is November 10th! Yikes. Lows in the low 20’s no less. Great temps to start up!
Well for this week, most of the good news is that we are almost finished with the big pipe and pump projects. So the plan for next week is to finish the little projects up on the hill. Things like stretching out the snow gun hoses and blowing them out just to make sure there are no little critters (or their winter food supply) inside the hoses or the snowguns that could damage the gun’s nozzles when we fire up and create rain instead of snow.
The rest of the good news is that we have been able to dry our clothes, our feet and hands are no longer pruny from the days and days of working out in the wet and rainy weather. The reservoirs will all be full by this weekend and the snowmaking crews are starting to take shape. (BTW-Still have a few openings, hint, hint).
So, time to throw on a dry layer and get back out there to help the crew to finish up.
Like I said “I love it when a plan comes together!”
Tick Tock Tick Tock
Thank Goodness for..Rain?
Thank Goodness it’s Raining!
We say under our breath. Those four words are not usually in a snowmaker’s vocabulary. But due to this summer’s below normal rain fall, the streams and brooks and yes ground water too, are at extremely low levels. Why should you care? Because without that water there would be no machine made snow…no snowmaking! That is inconceivable!!! How would we ski?
So every rain drop that falls from sky is like a gift from heaven. The snowmaking reservoirs are well on their way to being full and this rain storm will help us finish the chore and we will be ready to pump out some serious snow as soon as the temps drop.
Compressor and water pumps tested…..check
Gun and hoses ready……almost check
Pipelines ready……almost check
Snowmakers……. Still hiring!
The remaining mountain snowmaking projects are in high gear. We have just a few more pieces of pipe to weld, pumps to install and control wires to run. No worries there. We will get it done and be ready.
This season we (the snowmakers) will have the ability to see what his happening at each of our five pump stations on our computer in our break room.
Pressures, flows, amps and temps, oh my.
All without having to travel all over the Resort to get that information- Priceless!
That kind of real time information will allow us to spend more time on the hill, more time getting the most out of the snowmaking system and have each and every gun possible running, making more of the white stuff faster. The monitoring of all the pump stations is part of a greater plan to automate them too. Soon I hope!
So while we are slogging out in the rain, soggy to bone, we are smiling because we know that the rain is just what we need to enable us to push the start button on the water pumps and compressors and cover the hill in snow! After all, we want to ski and board as soon as possible too.
The target startup date is Friday Night, October 31st, Halloween! Now that’s appropriate!
Think Snow, Think Cold Weather! Think Snowmegeddon!......its coming……..
Blog Takeover: GroomingIt’s 6:30 in the morning on the last day of January and I’m sitting on top of Wild Turkey looking at beautiful, fluffy Berkshire packed powder. Now, I’m going to take my groomer, Jiminy’s perfect corduroy making machine, and bring it to its fullest potential.
We are only in day 59 of the season and team Snowmageddon has already down an average of 4 feet on every trail which is a great feat considering that we had some warm ups with temps in the 50s, along with some wet weather mixed in there. But the men and women of the snowmaking crew brought great conditions right back after each weather event. No doubt all the new snowmaking equipment definitely helped this year. We want to say thank you for the consistently huge, powdery piles this year and we look forward to another Team Snowmageddon barrage of snow guns and maybe some night we can set another record for guns running – the groomers are up to the challenge! I hope you guys are too.
-Bob, 3rd shift grooming
A Day In The Life of A SnowmakerYou have read all about our plans throughout this season but here is a glimpse into what a day in the life of a snowmaker is like. My name is Kimber and I am the first shift snowmaking supervisor at Jiminy Peak.
In the life of a snowmaker, no day is ever the same as the one before and every day is a learning experience! Well, one thing is the same every day – safety is our number 1 priority. On any given day we could be tending to guns that are running, using hammers, shovels or even a torch because once in awhile things do freeze in the conditions we work in. Or on days where we aren’t making snow, we could be pumping water to the summit reservoir and monitoring the status of our pump stations called Kinderhook and Bentley. In addition to pumping water we work on projects on the mountain and getting everything ready for when the temperatures drop and we can begin making snow again.
Every day in snowmaking is an adventure. It is challenging and rewarding at the same time and that is why we love it. The best part is hearing the crackle of the gun as it starts up and the most challenging is the fact that we are so dependent on the weather, just waiting for temperatures to be where we need them to be. Most of the time we want them to be cold, but sometimes we need some warmer temps to refill reservoirs or thaw a frozen pipe or gun.
We love getting questions from you guys when we are out working around the mountain and we appreciate all the “thank yous” we receive. It’s a nice little reminder of why we do what we do!
Quick UpdateJust a quick note to let you know that snowmaking is certainly NOT over yet!
The weather has been mean to us sometimes (rain), and very nice to us sometimes (Powder), and very cold (Brrr) sometimes!
The snow surfaces have been really good!
We will be firing up our Awesome Snowmageddon Snowmaking System on Monday as the latest storm departs the region, and we will make snow on 29 trails using over 316 guns until Thursday when the pesky east wind comes back signaling a little snow and a little warmer weather and the time to give the guns and the snowmakers a short rest. But only until the following week.
So no. It is not over for us yet. Not by a long shot!
We'll update again on Monday, until then…..Stay Frosty My Friend and enjoy the snow!
Re-Surfacing 26 TrailsAh, the life of a midseason snowmaker! Improving the surface minute by minute, trail by trail from noon on Monday going through 4 pm today. We will have covered 26 trails with 262 different guns. The surface conditions have gone from loose granular to packed powder in less than 24 hours. We are shutting down today, enabling all of us (snowmakers) to celebrate the New Year.
A snowstorm with cold temperatures is forecasted for Thursday into Friday with 6”-12” of very dry, fluffy snow possible. Our next start up after, a few days rest and mountain projects, is Monday for a week of hard core snowmaking, around the clock and across the mountain.
Happy New Year! Join us tonight as we celebrate with the annual Torchlight parade and fireworks display!
And So It GoesWe have built our base up to 15”-36” of base on all of our snowmaking trails and now we are into the re-surfacing (dust and run) mode. Tonight is our first official “dust and run” where we are going to be running 140 different guns. We will run 1 compressor, making snow beginning at 5 pm on the day skiing trails (13 trails). At 11 pm, after night skiing is complete, we will shut down snowmaking on those trails and start 70 guns on the night skiing trails (22 trails) until 5 am. At 5 am we will shut down the snowmaking system and give the snowmakers the next 2 days off.
Monday night we will do the routine again. Start up snowmaking at 4 pm when the day skiing trails close (on those trails) and then after night skiing, switch to the night skiing trails. And so it goes, over and over again.
No Use Crying Over Melted Snow - We Can Make More!The temperature finally dropped last night and we were able to begin snowmaking once again. We have a plan that breaks the next 24 hours into 4 hour segments, each representing 160 guns in operation, covering 34 trails. That includes both resurfacing as well as base building. It also represents approximately 3700 gallons of water/minute being cranked out as snow. 3700 gallons per minute equals 5.3 million gallons of water into snow in that period.
On Christmas Day we will be re-opening Cutter, Winding Brook, Riptide and Willie’s Gulch for 25 trails, all of which will have been re-surfaced. During the day on Wednesday, we will have a pesky southeast breeze (a snowmaker’s nightmare) during which we have identified approximately 60 gun locations that we may be able to continue to make snow on across the mountain. As soon as that pesky breeze turns to the south (as forecasted) then we will go right back at concentrating on Widow White’s Peak (Panorama, Nor’easter and Easy Does It) and Jericho while we re-open Wild Turkey, Upper & Lower Whitetail, Outback and Lower Exhibition for 31 trails open on Thursday. Jericho, Bear Crossing and the 3 trails on Widow’s will open on Friday for 36 trails open.
Snowmakers lament – it’s hard to believe that 2 days ago we were 2 weeks ahead of our snowmaking plan with gobs of snow on all of the trails, Widow’s just about ready to open, and then we had to start over. But, there’s no use crying over melted snow! The crews are equal to the task and in the words of Jim Mucci, our Night Manager/Snowmaking Manager, (as seen on Channel 13/WNYT news) in a couple of days no one will even remember that it was warm.
Waiting For Temps to Drop!Snowmaking re-starts on Monday, as soon as the temperature drops! The recovery plan is being developed to systematically provide base and top dressing to 20+ trails per day over the next 72 hours (beginning tomorrow night then Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and opening Jericho and Widow White’s Peak by Friday.
During the last 3 days, we have topped off our reservoirs (with Mother Nature’s help) and given the snowmakers a rest so they can work through this stint (yes, they work through the holidays if needed – no rest for a snowmaker. Say Thank You to them when you see them!). We’ve got great snowmaking temperatures through the weekend and we will be providing an awesome snow surface within 24 hours of the end of this event.
The plan calls for over 300 snow guns to be run during the course of each 24 hour period. We will be doing “dust and runs” on certain areas that only need re-surfacing and will be letting certain guns run for longer periods where we need base. Our powerful snowmaking plant allows Jiminy to recover quickly from weather events such as this. If we are able to stick to the plan (a.k.a nothing goes wrong) we can get our skiing surface back to packed powder in approximately 24 hours, with constant improvement every hour after that.
We'll Be Back on Monday!
We’ve shut down snowmaking with an anticipated re-start day of Monday. The plan, starting on Monday, is to dust and run with the strategy of hitting every trail that we make snow on a couple times, prior to Christmas. That will allow us to restore the surface to the awesome machine groomed packed powder conditions we have had. Don’t let the weather deter your or affect your decision to come skiing - we are going to have awesome snow!
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from all of us on Team Snowmageddon!
Moving Into Widow'sSnowmaking re-started yesterday (a day early) to take advantage of these cold temperatures we are having. We were making snow on Widow White’s Peak (Panorama, Nor’easter and Easy Does It) and the bottom face of Jericho. Start up was hampered by a frozen valve near the top of Jericho so it took us a little bit longer than normal to get fired up, but we did!
Today we are flirting with southeast breezes, which is not ideal when you are making snow at Jiminy. That will reduce our gun count for the next 12 hours. Tonight, when the winds turn to the west, we will be increasing to the 150+ mark, going back into Widow’s and Lower Exhibition. And you guys that skied this weekend saw the piles that are already in Lower Ex – we are going to make them even bigger!
There is ample snow on Ace of Spades for the park crews to start building features in Coyote. Ace and John Hancock will open this weekend with probably more snow than they have ever seen on them!
This snowmaking stint is expected to last sometime Thursday night/Friday morning and then we will shut-down and let the next weather “system” to by. This will give the guys a break, allow us to refill reservoirs and prepare for the next snowmaking stint beginning Monday night-ish.
We will continue to battle to stay 2 weeks ahead of schedule. The skiing and riding have been awesome and we hope you have gotten the change to get out and enjoy our hard work (even the snowmakers have been out to enjoy it!)
Dust & RunsWe are eagerly waiting to find out if the weatherman is going to deliver on the promise of 6”-10” of snow! We are currently in the process of shutting snowmaking down on the mountain until Tuesday or Wednesday giving us time to fill the summit reservoir, move a couple of guns from trail to trail and prepare to begin snowmaking on Widow White’s Peak (Panorama, Nor’easter, Easy Does It) and Bear Crossing in addition to Jericho, Whirlaway and Lower Exhibition and begin our dust and runs on the rest of the mountain.
A “dust and run” is when (usually at colder temperatures – 15ish) we will light up every gun on a trail for just a few hours. Then start up the next trail for a few hours and the next trail for a few hours and so on. That process allows a few inches of dry snow to be made on top of the surface and then the groomers move through and mix it in, leaving a deeper packed powder surface, that will hold up to skier traffic longer. Over the course of the next week, in addition to what we are doing on Widow’s, we are planning on re-surfacing all of the trails. The dust and runs occur between 10 pm and 5 am and then we will shut down since we typically do not make snow on open terrain.
As a recap, we have converted 75 million gallons of water into snow so far this season and 29 million gallons this week alone. In our snowmaking history, we have never had as much of the mountain covered with as much snow at this time as we do this year. We are 2 full weeks ahead of our normal snowmaking trail progression. The terrain parks all have plenty of snow and the park crews are busy making and installing features. Grommetville will have 2 features when completed today and then they will move to Alex’s and then Coyote Ridge after that.
Snow, Snow & More Snow!In the last 48 hours we have made snow on Winding Brook, Left Bank, Jericho, Upper and Lower Whitetail, West Way, North Glade, Upper and Lower Slingshot, Deer Run, Grand Slam, Ace of Spades, john Hancock, Exhibition East, 360, 180, Cricket, and. Chipmunk. Today we are moving into Upper and Lower Fox, Riptide, Willie’s Gulch, Upper Whirlaway and Lower Exhibition and we will stay on those trails until Saturday morning. Our current plan is to shut down snowmaking on Saturday morning and start up again on Tuesday when we will go back into Whirlaway, Lower Ex, Jericho and move into Widow White’s Peak (Panorama, Easy Does It and Nor’easter).
Temperatures have been great, the work has been crazy and the groomers are just barely keeping up with the 8 and 10 foot piles that are being made every 8 hours at each of the 190+ guns running. At these temperatures, virtually every shift has had its share of “excitement” due to the amount of snow being produced. The snowmaking crews are doing an awesome job staying on top of everything.
The groomers -anywhere from 2-3 of them per shift, 3 shifts daily since Wednesday - are pushing the piles that we are making to attempt to get wood line to wood line skiing on each of the 26 trails that will be open for the weekend. We have moved out of Cricket to allow the groomers and SnowSports to begin building the Terrain Based Learning features that will be used this winter in our GET program to help first time skiers and riders learn and have fun and turn them into life-long snowsports lovers like us!
On the horizon (if you believe the weatherman) we have the potential of 4”-8” of snow, Saturday night into Sunday, depending on the track of the storm as it comes up the coast.
We open full time on Saturday which means we will no longer make snow on our open trails during the days or evenings and we will start “dust and runs” (snowmaker terminology). What is a “dust and run”? You will have to check back on Saturday to find out!
Putting the Plan to Action!Snowmaking resumed on the mountain overnight. We are now making snow on Upper Whitetail in addition to the trails we have already started on this season including, West Way, North Glade, Upper Slingshot, Grand Slam, Lower Glade, Left Bank, Outback, Deer Run, Ace of Spades (including Coyote Ridge), Winding Brook and John Hancock.
Having the plan, that we wrote about on Saturday, organized in advance makes hitting our record number of guns more manageable. We will hit 121 guns (on 14 trails) by the end of 1st shift (4 pm) and it looks like we will be able to hit our record sometime late 2nd shift (4 pm – 12 am) or early 3rd shift (12 am – 8 am). That will be 232 guns (on 21 trails) running at once for 5,104 gallons of water per minute converted to snow. Those 232 guns will run for 2 days. The temperature of the next 2 days and the fact that we are currently not open allows us to run that many guns to put an incredible amount of base on our terrain and give great surface conditions when we re-open on Saturday. Think cold and we will update you on our progress on Thursday!
Back At It!Winter is Here! The long range forecast (the next 3 weeks) is generally for cold weather – aka perfect snowmaking conditions. We used this past, warmer, week to stock our reservoirs to full capacity for the stint ahead. We are open for skiing and riding this weekend and then we will take full advantage of being closed midweek to focus on making as much snow as possible to give us a great base for what we plan to be a very long season ahead. As you know, we always strive to be open into the month of April and building a good base of snow is our key to that.
Now for the plan of attack – Our snowmaking strategy for the next 36 hours is to be making more snow on terrain that we started on last week, that is not open for skiing this weekend. The snowmakers followed the plan precisely and as the temperature dropped and the wintry mix (the "r" word mix) turned to snow, fired up the guns and had the system running within a couple of hours. Temperatures are not supposed to change much during the day but tonight it will be getting colder and we will be adding more guns on more trails after 4 pm. This snowmaking period is not filled with a lot of drama or excitement but we are getting the job done in preparation for the cold weather beginning Tuesday. We are currently (9:30 am on Saturday) on Outback, Ace of Spades, Winding Brook, Cutter, John Hancock and Wild Turkey. We will get up to 130 guns running today, building base in anticipation of those trails opening next weekend when we go full time (December 14th). In addition, by making snow on these trails now, we can then focus strictly on the “bread and butter” trails for the first half of the week’s cold snap.
The Next 10 DaysOh the weather outside is frightful…well, for snowmakers anyway! It is a little too warm (40s during the day, upper 20s to low 30s at night) for us to make snow right now so we are using the time to fill the reservoirs again and get the next set of trails ready for snow to be made. The plan is to make more snow on the bread and butter trails before full time operations begin. When we start up, we will both re-surface and add base to each of the 21 trails that were open last weekend. Once that is finished we will move back into John Hancock, Ace of Spade/Coyote Ridge, Wild Turkey and Outback. Immediately after that we are prepared to move into Whirlaway, Lower Ex and Upper & Lower Whitetail. That’s the game plan over the next 10 days. In addition, we are moving guns and hoses into Widow White's Peak in preparation for the next stint after that.
How about some stats for the number buffs? We have converted 47 million gallons of water into snow so far this season. We have never been this far along at this point of the season. We have made snow for 240 hours so far. We have already broken our previous record by running 203 guns earlier this season and now we have plans to run 211 guns when the temperature falls below 10 degrees. Never give up, never give in!
Moving Into New Terrain!Over Thanksgiving we re-surfaced all 19 trails and will do that again tonight (though not to the extent that we did when we were not open earlier in the week) to provide the best skiing conditions for you. Since we are open during the day (and night, tonight and tomorrow) we have now moved into Cutter, Winding Brook, John Hancock, Ace of Spades and Wild Turkey. The cold weather has allowed us to build “snomageddon-mongous” (aka bigger than giant) piles, almost enabling those trails to open tomorrow, but not quite. You never know what tonight might bring though! We may still have another trail or 2 open this weekend. The plan is for us to shut down tomorrow when the winds shift to the south and east - the worst direction for making snow at Jiminy because it blows back on the guns. Those winds are also bringing in warmer temperatures. This 48 hour break will allow us precious time to re-fill the reservoirs. Team Snowmageddon will be back in action on Monday night!
203 GunsThere are 200+ guns still running on the mountain as we type this, converting 5,075 gallons of water per minute into snow. That is the most guns we have ever run on the mountain at one time. How did we get there? Our secret sauce is the ability to lower the air pressure to allow the additional guns to run. To run 200+ guns is all about seizing the moment. You need the conditions of low temperatures (below 15 degrees) and closed trails because of the rate at which the snow piles grow. Under those conditions we can then lower the hill air pressure and add 80+ guns – a nearly 70% increase in production. The weather window to accomplish this (converting that many gallons of water into snow) is small and we need to seize every moment of high production at every opportunity. The secondary benefit is both economic and green in that we are able to convert 70% more water using the same equipment and electricity as we would use at only 120 guns. This never give up, never give in cutting edge snowmaking technology and attitude is why Jiminy consistently has deeper base depths and better quality snow than our competitors (that’s a pretty broad statement, but I am a little biased and we are proud of our accomplishment).
Making snow at that rate also creates a grooming “nightmare” because the snow builds up so fast in 200+ locations on the mountain. As it warms up today, we will reduce our gun count to a more manageable number (140) and the groomers will start their tasks of “capping” the piles (pushing the tops off the piles so more snow can build without getting too close to the gun) in preparation for more snowmaking tonight and for the forecasted inclement weather. By leaving the piles in tact, the weather impact on the snow will be minimized. We are planning on snowmaking to start up again on Wednesday at midnight and groomers will be in around the clock until we open on Friday morning.
Snowmaking is currently running on (as of 9 am Monday morning) - Back chute, West Way, North Glade, 360, Grand Slam, Ace of Spades (lower portion), Alex’s Park, Mogul Thing, Lower Slingshot, Raccoon’s Den, 180, Grommetville, Cricket, Grouse Run, Whitetail, Jericho, Left Bank.
Cold Temps Mean Lots of Snowmaking!We are making snow, right now as we type this, on Left Bank, Riptide, Willie’s Gulch, Upper Fox, Lower Fox, Exhibition East, Raccoon’s Den, Alex’s Park and Grommetville. There are also guns running on Ace of Spades, Mogul Thing, Jericho and Whitetail, and the back chute. The latter bunch have snowmaking on them so we can stay out of the terrain where you are skiing and in preparation for moving there as we open additional terrain. The plan is to have Left Bank, Grouse Run, Riptide, Willie’s Gulch and Upper & Lower Fox open for Thanksgiving weekend (17 trails). There are plans to add features in Grommetville on Friday and we are continuing to make snow in Alex’s to get that open soon as well.
The temperature is perfect for snowmaking (6 degrees at the summit right now), allowing us to convert 3,000 gallons of water into snow each minute. But they are tough for snowmakers, particularly with the wind. The team is doing an awesome job though, working outside in this winter weather.
Starting on Friday(ish) we plan to move into Coyote Ridge, Ace of Spades, Jericho and Wild Turkey. Of course, those plans are subject to change. Once we get those going we will start to move to Widow White’s Peak but we will keep you updated here as our plans progress.
An update on the West Way Pump Station – It has been successfully tested and it is just waiting for the opportunity to supplement our powerful snowmaking operation. It will add 1,000 gallons per minute capacity to the upper mountain system.
Expanding Snowmaking Terrain & A Snow Storm?!After a great opening weekend of skiing and riding, Team Snowmageddon was back in action on Tuesday! Snowmaking started up high on the mountain around 10:30 am and we expanded down as the temperatures in the base area dropped. We have been focusing on the “bread and butter” trails this week. Those trails include West Way, North Glade, Lower Glade, Upper Slingshot, Lower Slingshot, 360, 180 and Cricket. We have added Grand Slam and Raccoon’s Den to that list and they will be ready to open this weekend, along with Cricket.
This weekend we will move to new terrain for snowmaking so we can stay out of out the trails that you will be skiing on! On Saturday the team will move into Left Bank, Grouse Run and Upper & Lower Fox. And then on Sunday we will begin on Riptide and Willie’s Gulch. Those trails will be on the docket to open for Thanksgiving weekend which would make 17 trails open for the holiday weekend! We will keep you updated on the progress on that terrain.
You know what would help us get those trails open? A snow storm! And we have our eyes on one right now. The weathermen tell us there is a chance for a 12”+ snow storm on Wednesday. That would be a perfect Thanksgiving treat. It would certainly aid our team in getting even more terrain open for you and make for an awesome holiday week on the slopes at Jiminy.
Ready To OpenThe snowmakers have been hard at work and the temperatures have been nice and cold! We have piles of snow over 12’ in certain places that are being spread out by the groomers right now. The trails that will be open for this weekend are Upper West Way, North Glade, Lower Glade, Upper Slingshot, Lower Slingshot, 360, and 180. Exhibition East might even make it for the weekend if it can be connected.
We are making snow again tonight in Alex’s Park, Lower Slingshot, Grouse Run, and even a gun at the bottom of Jericho. Why are we making snow much snow in the base area tonight? The weather forecast for tonight is for the bottom of the mountain the be colder than the top of the mountain, which is called an inversion. We, being good environmental stewards, want to make the most efficient use of our water so we will be making most of our snow near the base tonight. Should time and temperatures allow, we will add guns on the middle section of Grand Slam. And you guys know that once Grand Slam is open, Coyote Ridge is not far behind. We are working hard to get our terrain parks open early this year.
Looking forward, we have sunny weather on Saturday for our opening day. We have a bump in the weather coming in on Monday with a little bit of rain but we are back at 24 hour snowmaking starting on Tuesday. That should allow us to further build depth on our core trails and allow us to make snow on trails that we haven’t been on yet in hope of opening them next weekend (the 23rd).
Here We Go!It’s looking like we have 3 days coming up of round-the-clock snowmaking with particularly cold temperatures for the last 2/3s of that time. Our tests have cleared the cob webs out of the guns and hoses and the snowmaker’s brains. All the equipment and personnel are ready to go for a new season!
We will start up late Monday night, as soon as the cold front passes and begin making snow until it warms up on Thursday. We will be making snow on our normal route of the back chute, Upper West Way, North Glade, Lower Glade, Exhibition East, Upper Slingshot, Lower Slingshot, 360, 180 and Cricket. If we are able to run more guns, we will add Alex’s Park and Raccoon’s Den to begin to make snow in those areas as well.
Most of the snowmakers have been hired for the season and have gone through training. They are eager to get to work and put some of that white stuff on the slopes. We are planning to be open for the weekend for day skiing. In snowmaking time, that is a long way away. Marketing-ese says to check back “here and on jiminypeak.com throughout the week for the latest information” and we will update this blog with the latest information on Thursday.
Snowmakers are sleeping right now, we are topping off the reservoirs, chilling the water and getting ready to go tonight!
Snowmaking TestSunday night was our snowmaking “shakedown cruise” which means we had all the components in operation that we would have during snowmaking. We had cold enough temperatures, water was chilled, the system was pressured, the air compressors were up and running, guns and hoses were prepared and the Snowmageddon team was ready to go. At 10:45 Sunday night, with the temperatures in the mid-20s (ambient, 55% humidty, wet bulb close to 20) we fired up. We ran 100 guns over 7 trails including West Way, North Glade, Lower Glade, Upper Slingshot, 360, 180 and Cricket. This was the first time of the season that we used the air system. We have already tested the water system and this allowed us to work the bugs out of the air side.
The Results – What was truly amazing was the piles of snow that were on the slopes in the morning. The piles ranged from 10 inches to 2 feet which was an incredible (maybe best ever) night of shakedown snowmaking (approximately 10 hours). The cold temperatures are to thank for that. Normally shakedown nights are around 27 degrees and humid which, as you know, are not ideal conditions for snowmaking.
The weatherman is calling for bands of cooler weather with some warmer swings mixed in, typical for the month of November, for the next week or so. But don’t you worry, the cold weather is coming and we are going to be making snow aggressively as soon as Mother Nature allows. More than 50% of the time we are open by Thanksgiving and often even weekend before. Think Cold!
Chilling the Water
Not everybody is as big of a nerd about snowmaking as we are (the snowmakers that is) so this explanation may be too detailed for some and not detailed enough for others!
We pump water from the brook (which at this time of year is approximately 50 degrees) to the summit reservoir in preparation for snowmaking. When the air temperature is below 40(ish) degrees we take water from the bottom of the reservoir (warm water) and spray it into the air on a continuous basis where it is cooled by the colder air temperature. This cold water will sink over time. As the layer of cold water gets deeper, it will mix with the warmer water at the bottom cooling the entire reservoir.
Why do we do this?
The laws of physics being what they are – it takes a significant amount of energy to reduce the temperature of a water droplet from 50 degrees to 32 degrees than it does from 38 degrees to 32 degrees. What that means for making snow is we can have more frozen droplets faster by chilling the water which translates to more, drier snow in the pile. As the air temperature gets colder during the winter, we chill the water less because the temperature difference between the air and water is greater allowing more freezing to take place.
We will continue to chill the pond until we reach 37 degrees. Why 37? 38 degrees is not as efficient but if we take the temperature lower that 37 (and closer to freezing) we run the risk of freezing the water within the snowmaking pipeline. Very bad news for the snowmakers! 37 allows us a margin of error.
Next up: The installation of the new pump and motor into the West Way Pump Station.
We're Back!We’re back!
It has been a long hot summer and we are back and ready for another season of Snowmageddon. Even though the weather is warm, we are still busy with the business of making snow during our “off season”. Summer gives us the time we need to make improvements to the system and get everything in order for winter.
So what’s new for this season? The West Way Pump Station. Located on the on West Way (betcha wouldn’t have guessed that!) this new pump station will provide uniform water pressure to the upper portion of the mountain that is not fed by gravity (the gravity system feeds the lower portion of the mountain from the summit reservoir). This will allow us to run 1/3 more guns on pressure on that portion of the mountain. In addition, when the temperature drops to 19 degrees and we are able to cut the air in half, we will be able to run even more guns at one time. All in all – this new pump will allow us to make more snow, at a higher quality, in a shorter amount of time. All good things!
Snowmaking is set to begin anytime after November 1 when the weather allows. Ideally, we need a 48 hour window of cold weather (or at least a few consecutive cold nights) to put enough snow down for opening on what we call our “bread and butter” trails. Those trails include West Way, North Glade, Lower Glade, Grand Slam, Upper Slingshot, Lower Slingshot 360, 180 and Cricket. Sometimes all of them and sometimes a portion of them depending on what Mother Nature hands us.
In the meantime, think COLD and we’ll see you soon!
Snowmaking Testing for 13/14!We are testing snowmaking guns! For all you snowmaking geeks the gun in the foreground is running at a 2-1 air/water ratio and the one in the back ground is running at a 4-1 air to water ratio. That means from an efficiency stand point the new gun that we are testing (the one in the foreground) uses half as much energy as our current gun in the background. What does that mean for snowmaking?
A Perfect Day for Skiing
What a day to be on the mountain! The conditions are beyond fantastic with a mountain full of perfectly groomed corduroy to start the day. The grooming team did a superb job last night and their hard work shows. In addition to the great conditions the sun is shining bright and the temperature is perfect – you really couldn’t ask for a better day! It looks like we have another day like today in store for us on Friday – get out here and enjoy it!