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A Better Way to Recover from Rain Events

Last Thursday, just two days before the February School vacation for Maine and Massachusetts, a warm winter storm dumped more than an inch of rain on the slopes of many ski areas in northern New England. Operators watched helplessly as hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of artificial snow, accumulated over the previous month, melted away in a matter of hours. To make matters worse, this was followed by a deep freeze on Friday night, turning what was left of the melting snow into solid ice.

School vacation weeks, when attendance typically peaks, are critical times for many resorts. So, operators turn to the only tools they have at their disposal. They crank up the snow guns on a few high priority trails, and power up grooming machines, which do what they can to grind up the ice to make the remaining trails skiable (loose granular conditions).

Why can't all the trails be covered in artificial snow overnight? Snowmaking is an energy intensive process, requiring huge pumps to send enormous volumes of water up the mountain. Resorts are limited by the capacity of their pumping systems, and most can only make snow on a few trails at a time. As a result, even if they operate the pumps 24/7, most ski areas simply don’t have the pumping capacity to send up enough water to cover all of the trails at once.

A second rain storm is forecasted for Wednesday, threatening to melt whatever snow these ski areas were able to make in the beginning of the week. It's a battle with nature and climate, and until now, ski resorts have been outgunned.

But there is a better way. The day after rain events, just as temperatures drop below freezing, the mountain is saturated with water, and all high elevation streams are gushing. As shown on the chart below, during these periods of peak flow rates, the volume of water can be more than 20 times the average (shown in yellow).

Unlike legacy systems, high elevation water collection is not limited by pump capacity because this water does not need to be pumped up the mountain; it's already there. We just need a distributed mountain water gathering system that delivers the water directly to the snow guns.

During these periods of peak flow, a high elevation collection system using ReNewSnow technology will be able to deliver many times the maximum volume of water the resort can get from their legacy system. This would allow many more trails to be covered, and in some places, it may be possible to supply water to all of the mountain's snow guns simultaneously. Either way, the snow cover would be restored in a fraction of the time, and at much higher efficiency and lower cost when compared to the electricity required to power the legacy system.

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